Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Full movie, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph, VFX, and Digital Art.
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- [Kris] A lot of what we do at the beginning of the film, everything is sacrificial but is really about getting momentum, is about trying to find and identify what's fun about this idea, or what's moving about this idea. Storyboarding is really about workshopping in material so when we take a script we don't have any of the assets, we have to create everything from scratch. When we get into full production the number I've been quoted is a million dollars a minute, so it's a lot of money. - [Rob Garrott] It's a lot of money! [Kris]: It's a lot cheaper to torture nine people and get them to draw all of your drawings for you and throw them away than it is to do that with 300 people and a giant crew. So our job is to facilitate the, anybody who's in that kind of decision-making process, whether is producers, directors, executives, give them a chance to see the movie before they see the movie. [Rob]: Right. - [Kris] Now, for us on the artistic level it's a bit like workshopping material so it's, you know, it's kinda like stand-up comedy thing where we're always trying to get as close to our audience as possible. [Rob]: Gotcha. - [Kris] So we're, you know, putting ideas up in the wall and we're seeing what sticks, it's a lot of spaghetti. - [Rob]: (laughs) Yeah. - [Kris] And, you know, I mean, we're really trying to find the cinematic moments, whether it's comedy and often we get a laugh then we know we're doing something right, if it's drama we can get somebody to care about drawings and you know you're gonna care about fully animated characters. And then our practical side, it gives a sense of what we need to build and what we don't need to build, so let's say you're in a set and you gotta build this set out, I mean, you do 360 or you're just shooting it from one side? Those decisions can add up to being considerable cost savings... - [Rob] A lot of money. - For the production of the film. So it's, on the creative side it allows us to try stuff, on the production side allows us to discover what we need to build, and I think there's, you know, I think there's just an opportunity for all the people who are invested in the process to contribute. And I think that's good. In live action you hire an actor, you get Dustin Hoffman and he goes on set. You gets Dustin Hoffman, you know what I mean, we don't have that. So, if we do hire Dustin Hoffman, he comes in a lot later in our process, so we have to sort of create the weather system that allow you to sort of bring someone like that in. - [Blue shirt guy] So, you guys are brought in really, right at the beginning, you're from the very first stage or, like, you know. - [Kris] Fairly early. - Is the script already written? Or is it a work in process? - [Kris] Most of the time, most of the time. I mean it's always in process so it takes us three or four years to make these things. The analogy I like to use is, like, your script is, like, your boat, your wooden boat that you're leaving the Old World heading to the New World. (Rob laughs) Everybody is on that boat, and everybody is really happy, and you're waving goodbye your loved ones, and you start to set off and when you get about two feet into the water they start shooting cannonballs. (Rob laughs) And so you're lucky if you get to the New World with any of that boat intact, but it starts you on the journey, and so throughout the course of the process, because it's such a workshoppy thing, it's always re-writing going on. Sometimes it comes from us, sometimes it comes from the writers. We have benchmarks, we do screenings, and that's always a moment to step back from the film, and there's always assessment that follow... So, yeah, it's really... We're one of first guys in because we're inexpensive and we're, you know, we're just part of the discovery. We have a saying that says, there's a point where the movie is pregnant, where it's gonna happen, and that takes about a yeah and a half usually. - Wow. - [Kris] You know, and you're just trying to stay, you're just trying to stay in the car, you're just trying to stay on the game. - [Rob] Wow, do you guys, do you find, have there been times where you got into that, where you thought you were to that point, and then the plug gets pulled? - [Kris] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I've been fairly lucky in my career that most of the productions I've worked on have gone all the way through. - [Rob] Wow. - But surely I count "Cloudy", one I was on a story for about five years and there were many days where we walked in and we were expecting that it'd be shut downed, you know, the studio didn't get it, we had regime changes like all the politics going on. And you can control any of that stuff, you know. - [Rob] But that was a very successful movie. - [Kris] But a hard movie to sell on paper. Think about it, you know, it's a disaster movie where food falls from the sky. (Rob laughs) You know it's not really a kid friendly, like when you look at dragons, like I can point to why I wanna make that movie, I can sell a ton of this dragon toys. (Rob laughs) Or, you know, minion or what have you. We only had this weird small town story with this unassembled cast. And you know, it's really a disaster movie for kids, and we couldn't say that in the room because anytime they heard "disaster movie for kids" then Marketing would shut down. That is not something that they can sell. - [Rob] Right, right. - So, and I'm being really, you know, broad in my aiming, there were certainly people in Marketing that were supportive for the film but it was a challenge, you know. - [Rob] Yeah, I bet it was. - And, you know, I got a lot of friends who, you know, at Disney you would have, you can work your whole career and not make anything because it's all about whether the movie goes or not. - [Rob] Right, right. - But you kind of have to have a humble attitude like anything in the film industry, you're here and you're six feet above ground and you're drawing for a living, so you gotta be. (Rob laughs) - Is there a team of artists that are working on the character design and the development, and, you know, and when you're drawing the frames themselves he, obviously you need to try and make the storyboard looks a little bit like the characters. - [Kris] Yeah, yeah. - [Rob] But how far are they down there...? - It's a bit a of a chicken-and-egg thing, like, certainly on Cloudy when we started we didn't have our final designs on any of the characters so, you know, we were drawing facsimiles. - [Rob] Wow, okay. - Certainly some of the influence of the final designs came out of the story. We also had, you know, it took us a lot to find our personnel, so, I mean, we only got Carey Yost and Pete Oswald. That really changed our designed language, you know Justin Thompson was our production designer. When those guys came on board, we were able to stamp the movie in a very specific way and it went in a very deliberate direction. But before that, I think it was about two and a half years, my math may be off a little bit on that, but there was two and a half years where we were working on a slightly different version of the movie, slightly different styles, and you know, we had different artists participating and, and this happens in every movie this, like, this casting where you're shuffling the deck, you're just trying to find the right chemistry. - Man, you got to open Photoshop right now, we could, maybe we could draw a little sequence or something. - [Kris] Yeah, yeah, sure. - [Rob] I don't want to keep it too complicated, maybe a story about, I love bicycles so, you know, maybe I come outside from a... - [Kris] You ride them or you just stare at them? - [Rob] I ride them. I ride them, I stare at them, I dream about them all day long. And I love my bike. And if somebody would steal my bike I would probably go crazy. So, maybe a little short sequence about me discovering my bike stolen. - Sure! - [Rob] So, I come outside, my bike's stolen, I go Hulk-crazy, maybe I get some muscles and stuff. - [Kris] Sure, okay. - [Rob] I smash up the place, but then I realize my bike isn't stolen, maybe somebody, you know, somebody says, "Hey, dude, your bike's over here." (Kris laughs) And now I look like a fool. - Okay. Yeah! I could totally do something like that. - Okay. - [Kris] So, my process, like, I tend to separate design from film-making so, if you imagine, did you light on? - Not very well. - [Kris] Okay, but you know the concept of light on? - [Blue shirt guy] Absolutely. You don't just start often, and starts shaping in, like, the upper lip. - [Blue shirt guy] Yeah, yeah. - The idea is you catch a gesture and you kind of build it up, it's like a polaroid. So, building a sequence is a bit that way, so. - [Rob] Okay. - You know, I'm just gonna start throwing spaghetti on the wall, to see what happens. - [Rob] Okay, excellent. - You wanna keep talking while I do this? - [Blue shirt guy] Yeah, absolutely. - You wanna do it here in Vancouver? Like what's the setting? - [Rob] Yeah, Vancouver is such a beautiful city. Vancouver it is. - [Kris] Alright. - [Rob] It's a setting, we're over, you know, maybe on the water front in the, the usual urban setting in the... - I was putting a bit of a, a bit of a slouch here. There's gonna do like a stub here. - [Rob] Excellent. - [Kris] And generally when you're storyboarding, like you, you're looking to communicate the idea. And part of the idea is not losing your audience, so you know, you're juggling a number of different things, so there's tone like in terms of how you're gonna shoot it, like, Woody Allen shoots movies a lot different than Bruckheimer. - [Rob] Right, right. - [Kris] So, I suppose what this will view be kind of our establishment/shop right here. - [Rob] Right. So, you're really grounded in the sort of the film making school as well, I mean you have to think about shot choices and... - [Kris] Yeah, absolutely. - And how it's gonna add it together and really you are film making even though you're just drawing pictures. - [Kris] Yeah, yeah, I mean yes it's what we're doing, you know. It's ultimately, you know, you're making something that someone's gonna be sitting on a couch in Sandusky, Ohio watching. And you have to think about your audience's response. Now, you wear those little bike shorts or you...? - [Blue shirt guy] Yeah, but they don't look good. (laughs) So make me look a little bit better than I actually do. - [Kris] I'm terrible at character design, so... - That means I'm safe. (laughs) I notice how you have your Photoshop set up, you have a whole bunch of layers pre-setup for yourself. - [Kris] Yeah, so I'm an old animator. I'm old in two senses, one, I am old, and the other one is I used to be an animator, does that makes sense? - [Blue shirt guy] I get it. Actually drawing on paper. - Yeah, back in the, back in the 2D days. I wasn't a good animator but I was trained that way, and I was coming up and that was what I was gonna do for living before the whole industry collapsed. But I still think that way, so you'll notice I work from bottom to top. - [Rob] The bottom, yeah. - [Kris] So it's a bit like a, like a flip in paper. - [Rob] Yes. So I'm just coming out the, I'm coming out of the door... - [Kris] Actually, you know what? You should be happy, you shouldn't be depressed. - [Rob] Yeah, I'm excited to see my bike. I haven't see it in all day. - [Kris] You haven't see it and you love your bike. - [Rob] I do love my bike. - [Kris] I know you love bikes. I know very little about you, but I know you love bikes. (Blue shirt guy laughs) What kind of helmet do you have? - [Rob] Um, it's not too weird, it's kind of normal looking. - I'm actually kick your arm right here. Give you more of a junky step. - So, really you are just capturing gestures, you are not obsessing about filling in details and... - [Kris] So, on an average week, I'm usually delivering two or three boards. - [Rob] Okay. When you say boards, boards are multiple frames, is that right? - [Kris] Yeah, they're like sequences, and so, you're talking about roughly like 300 drawings every couple days. - [Blue shirt guy] Wow. In a week? In a couple days? Wow! - [Kris] Every couple days. And some of that are visions, some of that is, you know, like you'll see what I'm doing here is I don't redraw my background every time, I just draw what I need to move. Alright, so you're coming down, coming down a step. And every, everybody works different, so if you get 10 boarders in a room, you're gonna get 10 different processes. (Blue shirt guy laughs) - [Rob] And when you're working at this point with the director, would you, you know, if they say, you know, hey Kris, I think we wanna might cut into a close-up at that point, and maybe really get a big jawdrop or something funny like that. Is that, would you start, start over again or do you keep that in the same sequence or what...? - [Kris] Yeah, it depends, I mean, usually I'll do a pass and then I show it to the director, and then we talk about it, and depending on how many changes are requested, I'll either start it over from scratch or I'll just tap in to what I've done. The whole goal is to get it to Editorial. So Editorial is where we cut it, so when we cut it, what we're doing is we're taking these from being drawings to giving them an occasion and time. - [Blue shirt guy] I see. - [Kris] And when drawing is falling into time, they start to become film. - [Blue shirt guy] Right, right. - [Kris]Does that make sense? - [Blue shirt guy] Absolutely. - [Kris] And so, ultimately much like animation, so when I started I was an animator, I had a director/animator Len Simon, he always told me, "Don't draw the drawing, draw the movement." And if you draw the movement then you're drawing designs as we catch up, and you can always go back in and redraw stuff. The idea is to get down as quick as possible, shoot it and look at it. And just, and really ask yourself, does this feel right? Does it have weight? And you have to have, you know, we have to have drawing chops to get there. But you can get there with very efficient sketches, you don't have to go in and, like, kind of draw all the detail and stuff. Like even like I'm not walking in all gear, you know, gear, gear, gear and you just have dots for eyes, but I'm getting the idea. So, it's like (tu-tu-tu-tu-tu whoop!). (Rob laughs) And then from there I will probably cut to a point of view and, let me think, I might put you in, yeah I'll start off putting you in the shot. - [Rob] Excellent, over the shoulder? - [Kris] Do a dirty, dirty point of view. - [Rob] Do you reach a point where you're, like, collapsing layers together and actually, you know, merging things or do you always keep it as a whole ton of layers? - [Kris] No, eventually I'll split it off into another program. You know, we can use Flix, I can use Bridge. I take note of being, you know, stack here and I make it into individual drawings. - [Rob] Gotcha. - [Kris] Now, I need to tell the story that you're bike is gone, so I'm gonna change my color here. - [Rob] Okay. - [Kris] Just for the sake of my own sketching. And usually what I'll do is I'll rough in like this, I'll try to rough it in as quick as I can. Even when working loosely while I'm doing right now because I have a camera on me. It's just me and my own, I'm doing stick figures. - [Rob] Gotcha, yeah. - [Kris] Right? Just so I can get a sense of sort of where everything is. So I'm gonna do like a bike block. - [Rob] Hmm, I see. - Unless you have a better idea. - [Blue shirt guy] No, a bike block is very, that's what, that will take me off. Let's imagine this were, you know, I'll see it from a much larger movie. - [Kris] Aham! - [Rob] As the film project comes through the process, is there ever a point where the storyboards are no longer necessary? Do you find you guys are boarding all the way through the process? - [Kris] We are but there are times when it's easier to solve the problem on layout, you know, where you have live camera. There are moments where you can go, even, right to the animators and say, "You know, listen, I just need this change made. "I'm not gonna go back in the story, "can you guys manipulate the camera "to get this new angle and just execute this idea?" - [Rob] Right, right. So the whole idea is solve the problem with the proper tools, you know what I mean? With the best tools at your disposal. If there's a screening coming up and we're not gonna have time to fully realize something, the thing about layout is, layout is a really practical department for us as film makers. Is a hard thing for an audience to watch because this is very cool. And, even though drawings are sketchy there's a warmth to them, you know what I mean? - [Rob] Yeah, they feel human. - [Kris] And you can get, you can get your performance, you can get a sense of your acting in there right away. So, I'm gonna do a take here 'cause you said you'd be really disruptive. - [Rob] Yeah. And I mean, really like a, you know, MGM Tom & Jerry disruptive. So how did you get started? You mentioned you started off in animation, but how did get into that? - [Kris] Well, I grew up on a goat farm in Southern Ontario, Canada. - [Blue shirt guy] Wow. - [Kris] And I was lucky enough to have a guidance counselor when I was in grade 12 to turn me on to Sheridan College. You gotta remember, this is before we had the Internet, we didn't have DVDs, there was no "Making of" books, you know, I always say it's like when you realize that babies come from other people. (Rob laughs) You know, as opposed as to they just spreading out of eggs or being delivered by stores. Like, the fact that somebody actually makes cartoons was a big revelation and not something I ever thought I was gonna be able to participate in, 'cause it was something I loved, but it wasn't like, it wasn't like I ever expected that to be a career. So my guidance counselor said, "You should check at the school." 'Cause I was always the art kid, and I was in, like, my last year at high school and I was in that point where (blurp-like phonetic sounds) (Blue shirt guy laughs) In that point where, you know, you start to compromise, I was gonna be an architect, I was gonna... You know, I was gonna go do something else with my life and my career. Not that being an architect isn't a great job, or the profession, it's just I'm an idiot. So, I needed to, I think, finding a job where I could be a stupid guy and kinda, you know, not be serious all the time and not have to wear a tie and be so... What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna snap to a white shop. - [Rob] Okay. So, when you were, you're on a goat farm... - [Kris] Oh, yeah! Okay. - And discover Sheridan College. - So, yeah. So, I was the art kid, that's how I stopped getting my ass kicked in high school, by, you know, drawing tatoos and doing band covers for, like, the popular kids, so that was how I identified myself. - [Rob] Gotcha. - So, my guidance counselor said, "You should go check out the school. "You're the art kid, go check on the school." So I went down there and check it out. And, it was like I've met my people. I mean it was like, people like you from all over the province, you know, and around the world actually, it was a very international program. And very respected and reknowned from what they did, I mean, for how they trained students and how they got, you know, film makers and into the industry. So I applied and, you know, luckily I got in. And the year I got in was the same year the plan came open. - [Rob] Oh, wow! - And so, to the animation it was (Kaboom!) you know, so it's like DreamWorks opened up, and Warner Brothers and Paramount and all these, not Paramount, Universal. But all these studios were suddenly ticking it. I'm gonna change, I'm gonna make you smaller, I want you to be smaller. But I'll cut off all these other stuff so I get to compensate. - [Rob] Sure, sure. - [Kris] I think it's funnier if you're smaller. Okay. So I applied Sheridan, went into Sheridan. Didn't know a thing about animation, didn't know about flipping, didn't know about, you know, peg bars, and bullets cameras, and kinda learn bouncing ball, and kind of went through the whole thing. - [Rob] Wow. - Best three years in my life. Not just for the school but for the people I met at the school, you know, my lifelong friends, and it was just, like, that collaboration of being with people who are like-minded and who wanna draw, you know. You learn, I mean, we're all a bunch of nerds and here we are kind of participating in a team sport of animation. - [Rob] Yeah. (laughs) That's so me. - [Kris] So, it was amazing. Like, it was a wonderful three years in my life. And then I got a job. Actually I got a job right off the school at Ottawa, working on TV stuff, and at the same time as that happened I was offered an opportunity to go down to the States to work on a feature. - [Rob] Okay. - Actually I had a couple of opportunities but I chose 20th Century Fox 'cause I always wanted to work with Don Bluth. - [Rob] Okay, yeah, yeah. - [Kris] You know "The Secret of NIMH" was one of those movies that was like a (kapoow!) film when I was a kid. (woooooo!) (Rob guy laughs) (woooaaaaii) - Did you find success right away? Or did you struggled at all? Or... - You know, the studio system is great because it's really set up to teach how to be an artist. And I think, the one thing that we've lost in our CG age, is the mentorship that was such a part of the old-timey process. 'Cause to be able to draw the characters and manipulate the characters, it took time, it took experience, you know. I mean, you had to learn how to be an artist and an actor, and how to be in the room and how to take notes and... So, the mentorship process was fantastic and just, I loved the learning and I loved the experience of working with all these other artists. And of course it all went downhill because the 2D industry collapsed. - [Rob] Right, right. - I'm gonna cut to, close-up of your face, here. And, and I was forced to kind of figure out how I was gonna fit into the brave new world we were all heading into with CG film making and, you know, you either adapt to learn the software and become a CG animator. I love to draw, drawing has always been a passion so. I've just had a daughter, had a kid. When I say I had a kid I mean my wife had a kid and I stood beside her while she pushed her out in the world. (Rob laughs) So we, the idea of kinda going back home was very appealing at that time so, as opposed to kind of fighting my way into LA and getting into that scene, I went back to Canada, and I was working TV up here in Toronto. And... - [Rob] Doing boards for television? - [Kris] Not doing boards yet, doing mostly design. - Oh, wow! - [Kris] I was a 2D animator trying to find animation work and there was no animation work at the time. So I was doing a lot of designing stuff. Not really enjoying my life. And through circumstances, you know, kind of run about way, a friend of mine was working a show and he ran into a problem where he was needing a board done, I had never boarded before. Gave me a call, I said sure 'cause you say yes to everything when you're that age. And I took it on, and nearly killed me, it was so much work and I felt so alive 'cause it was like animation again, you know, move and drawings, I mean. (Blue shirt guy laughs) And progressing things, you what I mean? And I'm timing things out, even though it's different timing, like I'm timing bigger chunks of the story, it's the same idea where it's all about rhythm, it's all about flow, you know what I mean? And how many drawings I put down will dictate how fast everything is. So... (whoop, huuuuh) "Noooo!" (whoosh, scream-like phonetic sound) (Rob laughs) This is where you're gonna kind of rage. So I'm gonna put like a camera pull on this. So we're gonna pull back. - [Rob] Oh, wow. - As you're starting to transform. - [Rob] Excellent. - [Kris] So back to the story, long story short, I got into doing boards in Canada here. And I had a very good life and I was very happy. But there was part of me that sort of wanted to see if I could punch in the feature ring again. - [Rob] Okay. - [Kris] Just, some of it's ego, some of it is curiosity, like I just wondered, what it would be like to do this job on a big budget feature? How do that feel, you know? My wife, she had one stipulation when we got married, that we were never gonna live in LA, you know. (Rob laughs) Back in the 90's, you know, there was like wild fires, you know, riots and, you know, that was a big part of why we went to Arizona. - [Rob] That was a difficult time there. - [Kris] So, I was new to the Internet, and I was looking on a site, I think it was AWN?? and they had a job posting for Sony animation, and it's like, I'm just gonna apply, I'm just gonna send my stuff down there and see what happens. And, long behold, they called me back, they wanted me to do a test, and I did the test, and then they called me down for an interview and, every step of the phase I thought I was blowing it. But, you know, something read through and they decided to take a chance on this young guy from Canada, and one day I got a call from them and they said, "You know, would you come down?" And I said yes, and then hunged up the phone and tried to figure out how I was gonna tell Amy that... (Rob laughs) My wife is pregnant again. - [Rob] Oh, wow. - So our second daughter was coming. So I was able to kind of put off that move until she was born. But I'm a terrible father, most Hollywood people are terrible people, they just start to, you know, they'll do anything for the job. So my daughter was born three weeks later when I moved to California. - Wow! Three weeks after that. - [Kris] Yeah, it was crazy. And that was another great time in my life 'cause I was suddenly doing something I love, storyboarding, with an amazing group of artists. And we were really small, when I started we were like 12 people there. - [Rob] What was the first project that you worked in there? - [Kris] "Open Season". - Ah! That's a wonderful movie. - [Kris] The first movie out of the gate, so. - [Rob] Have you ever hit a point in, where you felt like your drawing skills were not up to the challenge? Of what's like, sometimes... - Every day. (Rob laughs) Every day. - [Rob] But, have you hit, you know, a scene that you're just like, I have no idea what I'm gonna do here? - Yeah, and sometimes what you do is you go for a walk. - [Rob] Okay. - You know what I mean? Like, you get out of your own head space. - [Rob] So, you get drawer's block. - [Kris] Yeah, all the time. Every artist does. And there's sweet spots, like where, it's like you've hit fluid, like three in the morning you don't go to bed, you stay up and you keep drawing, you know what I mean? And then, the next morning at nine o' clock when you're supposed to start work it may not be there, you know what I mean? - [Rob] Right, right. - And then, that day you're fighting it all day long. Like, keep the helmet, right? - [Rob] Yeah. (laughs) The helmet stays. - [Kris] Can you read my drawings out? 'Cause I mean, my first pass - [Rob] Oh, it's wonderful. - [Kris] It's usually just for me, right? - Absolutely I can read them. You know the thing that's great for the focus watching is while as when you flip through it's, it works very, very well. And the, the storyboarding process, like you said before, you mentioned earlier that nobody is gonna ever see these things. And it's such an amazing part of the process to me, it's so fascinating. The first time I was ever exposed to storyboards for real, like, the first time I realized how important they were was, it's part of the extras on the DVD for "The Incredibles". - [Kris] Aha. - And, because I've never, I've doing mostly graphics, but I hadn't, you know, you don't really use storyboards the same way that they're used in filming, so. - It's more like workbooking, isn't it? - [Rob] Exactly. - When, if there's a drawing it's just a track into the process, isn't it? - [Rob] Exactly. So, now you're, there's some wonderful things on those DVDs. Actually it wasn't "The Incredibles", it was "Monsters Inc.". - [Kris] Ah! Another great movie. - [Rob] Yeah. And, there was a scene on the DVD extras where they walk through the same scene all the way from the storyboard to the finished scene. - [Kris] It's fascinating, isn't it? - [Rob] And the thing that I realized was the storyboard was just as entertaining as the finished scene, because it was, you could see how fast they got to the result and it didn't really changed that much from the storyboard. They solved all the problems on paper. - Yes. - [Rob] And they, everything else after that just sort of flowed together. - [Kris] Yes. And it goes the other way too, where it's not working. But you know that in the drawings, you trust the process. Then that sort of what you're after, you're hunting team to get that thing that works so well in drawings, that you know it's gonna be even better when you put full color and lighting and all that stuff on it. - [Rob] Yeah, yeah. - You know, it's only gonna get better. - [Rob] Only gonna get better, yeah. - Yes, so if you're communicating at that level, then that's a really good way to be confident about your movie. Does that make sense? - [Rob] It really does. - So, what should I have you break then? - [Rob] I'll leave it, automobile. - An automobile? Okay. - [Rob] Yeah, 'cause bikes and cars don't get along so good. - [Kris] You know what, I'm gonna start with the, I'm gonna start with the pole. - [Rob] Oh, yeah. - 'Cause we know the pole. And then I'm gonna take that to the automobile. Is that okay? - [Rob] Yeah, and smash the automobile with the pole. - [Kris] Yeah, so I'm gonna do, I'm gonna cut to a close-up to that pole. - Grab it with both hands and (arrrgh!) - [Kris] We're gonna see that play right there. - So, when you were, you worked on "Open Season", and then which was a, wasn't the most successful movie but it was artistically really well done. - [Kris] We have a weird thing, and so all of our movies are very different from each other. Like, you look at "Open Season", to "Surf's Up", to "Cloudy", to "Hotel Transylvania", to the ones we did over in England "Arthur Christmas" and "Pirates". I guess even "Smurfs". Like, every film is very different, we don't have a house style on the way. I think Disney and Pixar are sort of, they have to serve that. - [Rob] Yes. - But we've made weird little movies. I wish... - [Rob] Weird entertaining little movies. - [Kris] Yeah, and you know, you hope, you hope you find an audience 'cause that's why you do it but... - [Rob] Right. - Yeah, it was, I was very lucky to be part of some of those films 'cause I don't think they'd ever make "Surf's Up" today. - [Rob] It would be difficult. And there is, one of the things that was, that I really find remarkable about, both "Surf's Up" and "Open Season" and... (laughs) That's, that's great. Was the, I would call it the, the extremity of the character design, the art direction on it. You know, it was not like something you've seen before. That's really what drew me to "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs" was the the personalities within the characters themselves. Even when they were just not moving. - [Kris] Yeah. - [??] It was so strong. - Yeah, we have brilliant animators and Chris and Phil were always really passionate about making it not feel animated. Like, we would make our guys, I said make, that would be as we all embraced it, but the idea was, like, every now and then you'd have your characters move like Muppets. - [Rob] Yes! - So, I mean, you could be in, like, "Over here, let's go!", it would do. - [Rob] Yes. - Over there, and we would do that extra move like somebody has a stick down here. - [Rob] Flint, Flint typing. I would just, I could watch a GIF of that all day long. It's the best thing ever. It's so, it's so whimsical, it had an energy to it. So, you know, that's a really good question, like, within that movie, how did you guys, who made the decision to have that crazy fingers typing? - Oh! - [Rob] Where did that come from? - I think a lot of it was, I wanna say it was Phil, but it might have been both Phil and Chris, I think their collaboration was one of, really conversation, like, they really trusted each other so there was always, like, lots of talking. - [Rob] Yeah. - And there was a little boiling down, like anytime you would do something, quite often we would be doing simplifying, even if the story, you know, it's like we would take cuts out and, like, come cameras down, like, lock things off. - [Rob] He started really wild and then... - Yeah, I mean, like the instant is to put water cuts, and then like less cutting, or simpler cutting, simpler stage, and then hit a joke, you know, like even, like, when you go down to that typing things it's can we make it dumber, make it dumber, make it dumber. You know, there was of that, like, Phil had always acted that way, and you know, we would put it on our boards, like I was just drawing Flint, I'll do a Flint drawing here, I would just draw Flint like this, with like a thousand hands up and down. (Rob laughs) You know what I mean? And that would be, like, one drawing with sort of be him at his desk typing. - [Rob] Yeah. - [Kris] You read that? - [Rob] I do, actually. - [Kris] And then the animators would take it and they, would do what they would do, you know? And those guys are always plusing the material. When we were lucky enough to have an opportunity to work on the sequel, I mean, it was so great to be in that room and be surprised by the stuff that they do. Actually, there was, if you look at the sequence in "Cloudy" one where Sam puts her heels into Flint's eyeballs. - [Rob] Oh, yes. (laughs) - [Kris] So, I boarded that sequence, and I had the drawing where, like, the feet go in and then there's, like, the pillowy eyes. - [Rob] Yeah. - But what the guys did in animation just took it a thousand times beyond that, you know what I mean? And, like, the timing is so perfect, and then, you know, I think the guys went back in and found the perfect sound effect for that squasing. - [Rob] Yes. (laughs) - [Kris] Squashing of the orbital cavity. - [Rob] Yes. (laughs) - [Kris] So, I got talking, I'm like, I don't often in drawings. - [Rob] That's okay, it's really fantastic. I can't wait to see... - [Kris] Actually, this one, this one, I'm kind of struggling with how to frame this. Let me just try... Sometimes I need to just try things a couple of different ways. Hold on, let me just scribble out something here. 'Cause I could have you come in... Like this. Smash the car that way. It could have... (mumbling). Bring the pole down this way into the car. You have a preference? - You know, it seems like you might be, you shoot it from the side with the hands snapped in the pole. - [Kris] - [Rob] It might be a natural cut to just look back towards the car and have me from a first angle. - [Kris] From a distance, coming in, yeah. - [Rob] Just smashed the, smashed the car. Almost break it in two, really. (Blaaamoo!) - [Kris] Yeah, okay, I'll do that. So I'm just gonna, go a little wilder on the car. - [Rob] It's interesting to see your process, where you don't, you don't commit to it right away sometimes. Some of the drawings come to you very quickly and other you search for ideas. - Yeah. Yeah, like sometimes it's... Actually, no, I'm not liking it. I need to find a simpler way to get you to smash that car. - [Rob] Well, I was thinking that even, maybe, almost as if, like the pole is right here, and the car is just handed nearby and, like, almost as if we cut back this way and the camera is looking up the street at the car as I smash it from over the top. - [Kris] Right, but aren't we saving the up to street for the reveal that you're not... - [Rob] Excellent. - [Kris] Right? - [Rob] Yeah, it's absolutely... - [Kris] That's why I'm fighting it, I don't wanna go too high up the street. - [Rob] Don't want sterilize, is what you're saying. - [Kris] That's why I'm wondering if... Hold on, let me try one more try of this, you guys can edit this down as this doesn't work. - [Blue shirt guy] No, but this is part of the process, it's, that's the interesting thing. You know, the storyboarding is really all about solving those problems and working them out ahead of time so that you don't, you know, find yourself in a bad spot when you're burning money animating. - [Kris] Yeah, absolutely. - [Rob] So, you've been, you've been with Sony all this time or are you...? Are you now still with them? I see the shape and that's great. - [Kris] Yeah, still with them, still with them for now. - [Rob] Fantastic. And, is there a current project you're working on that you can mention? - [Kris] Not really, no. Everything is kind of all hush-hush. - [Rob] Yeah. - [Kris] Top secret. - [Rob] That's the interesting thing. So you find yourself working on things, you know, years in advance that you can't talk about. - [Kris] Yeah! I mean my kids see it all. - [Rob] Yeah. (laughs) And how do you get them to not blab it to their buds? - [Kris] We're living in the entertainment age where there's so much stuff out there, I think, you know. As long as, you know, I'm not on the Internet actively talking about it, what my kids say in the classroom isn't gonna... - [Rob] Yeah. (laughs) - [Kris] And they know. They know how to be discretive about stuff, you know what I mean? They've been lucky enough to get into a lot of our early screenings and stuff, like the "Lego Movie" and what have you. It's like, they feel, like, you know, they love it when the guys come up and say "Okay, so you're gonna see this before anybody else." You know what I mean? There's just something really cool about it. - [Rob] So how has it been, we mentioned it earlier, that you have things where you, that make you go take a walk. And I guess, maybe I'm answering my own question as I ask it, because if the story were such a formative process, but I mean do you ever have, you don't really have problems you can't solve because you can always come back and just draw something different. - [Kris] Yeah, and, we definitely use each other, I mean, so if I'm having a hard time on a sequence I can go talk to somebody that I trust on my crew and they help. Sometimes a conversation is all you need to unlock it, sometimes it's talking to the director, sometimes it's, you know, putting something off on the wall and pitching it, seeing what happens. - [Rob] How many people are usually collaborating with like, you know, in "Cloudy" how made storyboarders where there? - [Kris] Um, I think at our high we had 10. - [Rob] Wow. - When you kind of get down to the final throws of the film you're really working with three or four people, so, you know. And then there are certainly people you hop on and pitch in and help out for a little while, you know, and then they go into other movies. And I've been that guy on films, you know what I mean? So, it's, it's good. And, you know, there are times when you get tired, like, you've been on the movie for four years and you've lost all objectivity, and it's nice to bring in somebody new. - [Rob] Yeah, who see it with fresh eyes. - [Kris] Yeah, yeah. Like I said, I've been that on films and it's great when that happens to your movie, you know what I mean? So, it's... It definitely hang on to your relationships. You read that? - [Rob] Absolutely. (Rob laughs) Do you find with the collaboration, like, how do you guys coordinate drawing styles within the storyboarding process? Or do you even worry about that? - We don't worry about it so much. - [Rob] Okay. - I think that's okay for the movement, we can always be it... Let me take out the drawings, just wait... Let's see how we go. (rage-like sounds) (destruction sounds) - [Rob] (laughs) Take that car! - [Kris] Yeah, screw you. (Rob laughs) And your car were the footprint. - [Rob] Yeah. - [Kris] I'll try to keep in this shot going. - [Rob] Okay. I hit it a couple of times. Smash, smash. So tell me about you're, like a typical work day that you might go through. You get there in the morning and, you know, let's say you already know the projects that you're working on and you've had a review session with the script and... (Kris laughs) - [Kris] Yeah. I laughed because it depends on whether or not I'm delivering on that day. (Blue shirt guy laughs) So, if I got to click the guy in the back of my head, I'm up at four in the morning and I'm, you know, kind of drawn my butt off all day. If I'm not delivering then I'm usually kind of screwing around, I go get a coffee, I kind of pour it, I spend some time thinking, I stare at the Internet for a while, go to some meetings, and then usually late at night is when i get my rhythm down. I'm a late night drawer. So unless I'm in a panic, I tend to do other things kind of through the day and work at night. I like to work at night. - Then you find, do you work at home sometimes or do you stay at the office 'til late? - [Kris] Yeah, actually, well, just recently I relocated back to Ontario. - Oh, wow. - [Kris] For my kids to go to high school there. And, so I'm home all the time now. - [Rob] Well, that's great. - [Kris] Which is great 'cause LA wakes up at noon, which is when I start to get my mojo. - [Rob] Excellent. So you guys, so you're drawing all your pitching remotely then. - [Kris] Yeah. - How does that work? - [Kris] Um, it's great! I mean, we live in that age where, like, the Internet is so efficient, you know. I mean, between, I can record my pitch and send it that way, or I can get on and, you know, kind of screen capture my, my document, and just step through it and pitch it over Internet. Like, there's so many different ways I can communicate, which is great. And then I hop on a plane if I need to and go down, you know. - [Rob] Yeah. So, are the days of the, the big pitch meeting with the wall full of drawings, is that gone now or is it? - [Kris] No, it has just changed, you know. Now it's all, we do everything digitally so it's like an artist, you know, stepping through drawings. Sending a lot of drawings if not more because they animate, you know. - One of the things that I also find most fascinating about storyboarding process is that it really is, timeless is the wrong word because, like you said, it's changed, like, you're doing things digitally now. But in some ways it is timeless because it's such an important part of the animation process, I mean, there's things that disappear from it, but it seems like storyboarding will always be there, you know. It's such an inexpensive way to solve the problems. - Until you get a computer that can think and pitch ideas, in which case we have other problems. - [Blue shirt guy] Yeah. (laughs) They won't be making animations at that point, they're gonna be destroying us. (laughs) - [Kris] I'm actually, I'm glad we're filming this because this is my process. I just start off drawing, like, really kind of tight drawings thinking, "Okay, someone might see this." And then I end up just doing this, which are like kind of scribbles. - [Rob] Yeah. Have you ever had a sequence where you got it done, like, "Oh, these scribbles are not good enough for anybody. "I need to go back and add detail."? - [Kris] Oh, all the time. Yeah, all the time. Usually my process is I'll do this and then I'll go back in and I'll... - [Rob] Just draw back over in top of it. - [Kris] Yeah, yeah. So, could this be better? Sure, but you see how much time it took us to do this? Almost nothing at all, you know what I mean? The grand scheme of things. - [Rob] The beautiful thing is that, you know, the story is there. - [Kris] And you could throw it all and you can try other things. - Yeah. - [Kris] And, you know, I can keep working in the drawings and we can make it better. I like to do this, just slap a little bit gray tone on just to sort of clarify it, and I'll step through it. - [Rob I see. Just to define the shapes a little bit more? - Yeah. - [Rob] People get hanged up on how do they draw the most amazing thing ever and lose sight of the communication. - Right, right. And I'll allow you, the drawing matter. You gotta be able to draw. What it's, I think you can pull back a lot, I mean it's really about the movement, you know what I mean? It's about getting your idea, I always likened to, when I was in high school learning how to type, I, the challenge was can you type as fast as you think? You know what I mean? And I think it's the same for your drawing, can you communicate to yourself as quick as your thinking through these ideas? It's fluid, you know what I mean? And saw when I got stuck I went back and started flipping. I was going back to the movement, you know what I mean? I'll just shrink this down and actually, yeah. 'Cause I'm gonna pull in, add a keyboard, that's where the keyboard is handy. Alright, so. (tu-tu-tu, whooop!) "My bike, my biiike! "Noooo! Why?! "Damn you!" (Whaaaaagh, ripp, whooom pshhh, aaaaah!) "Who? Die all of you!" (Pshhhh, aaargh, aaaargh, aaaargh) "Hey, dude, here's your bike." "Ah, sorry." (Bike bell ringing) The end. (Rob laughs) - [Rob] Man, that was fantastic! I gotta tell you how entertaining that was, and it was just a bunch of scribbles. - Just a bunch of scribbles, man.
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