Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Part 4: Communicating through storyboarding, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph VFX and Digital Art.
- Keep the helmet, right? - Yeah. (laughing) The helmet stays. - Can you read my drawings though because I mean, my first pass - Oh, it's wonderful. - is usually just for me, right? - Absolutely I can read them. The thing that's great for the folks watching as well as when you flip through it works very, very well. You know and the story boarding process, like you said before, you mentioned earlier that no one was ever gonna 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 story boards for real, like the first time I realized how important they were was as part of the extras on a DVD for The Incredibles because I never ... I had been doing motion graphics, but I hadn't, you know. We don't really use story boards the same way they're used in film. - It's more like work booking, isn't it? - Exactly. - There's a drawing, it's just tracking through the process, isn't it? - Exactly, so now you're ...
There's some wonderful things on those DVD's. Actually, I'm sorry, it wasn't The Incredibles. It was Monster's Inc. - Ah, another great movie. - Yeah and there's a scene on the DVD extras where they walk through the same scene all the way through story board to the finished scene. - It's fascinating, isn't it? - The thing that I realized was the story board was just as entertaining as the finished scene because, but it was ... You could see how fast they got to the result and it didn't really change that much from the story board.
They had solved all the problems on paper. - Yes. - And everything else after that just sort of flowed together. - Yes, and it goes the other way too where it's not working, but you know that in the drawings and if you trust the process then that's sort of what you're after. You hunt until you 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 the other stuff on it. - Yes. - You know it's only going to get better. - It's only going to get better, yeah. - Yeah, 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? - It really does. - So, what should I have you break then? - I believe an automobile. - An automobile, okay. - Yeah because bikes and cars don't get along so good. - You know what, I'm gonna start with the pole because we know the pole and then I'm gonna take that to the automobile. Is that okay? - Yes, I can smash the automobile with the pole. - Yeah. I'm gonna cut to a close up of that pole. - Grab it with both hands, ah! - We're gonna see that bike block there.
- So when you were working on at Sony you worked on Open Season and then ... It wasn't the most successful movie, but it was artistically really well done. - We've had a weird thing at Sony where all of our movies are very different from each other. You look at Open Season to Surfs Up to Cloudy to Hotel Transylvania to the ones we did over in England, Arthur Christmas and Pirates. I guess even Smurfs. Every film is very different.
We don't have a house style in the way I think Disney and Pixar are sort of ... They have to serve that, but we've made weird little movies. - Weird, entertaining little movies. - Yeah, and you hope you find an audience because that's why you do it. - Right. - But yeah, I was very lucky to be part of some of those films because I don't think they'd make a Surfs Up today. - It would be difficult. One of the things that I really found remarkable about both Surfs Up and Open Season (laughing).
That's great. Was the, I would call it the extremity of the character design. The art direction on it. You know, it was not like something you had seen before. That's really what drove me to Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs was the personalities within the characters themselves even when they were just not moving. -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, (laughing) I say make, I think the guys willingly embraced it. But the idea was like every now and then you'd have your characters move like muppets. - Yes. - So you could be like, "Over here, let's go." You would do. We would do that extra move like somebody has a stick down here. - Flint typing, I could watch a gif of that all day long. It's the best thing ever and it's so whimsical. It had an energy to it. That's a really good question.
Within that movie, how did you guys ... Who made the decision to have that crazy fingers typing? 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. Then it was a real boiling down. Anytime you would do something quite often we were doing this simplifying. Even in the story, we would take cuts out and calm cameras down and lock things off, so that it was ...
- You started really wild and then ... - Yeah, I mean the instinct is to put a lot of cuts and then it's like less cutting or simpler cutting, simpler stage and like hit the joke. Like even when you go down to that typing thing it's can we make it dumber, make it dumber, make it dumber. There was some of that. Phil would always act it out that way and you know, we would put it in our boards. Like I would just draw Flint. I'll do a Flint drawing here. I would just draw Flint like this with like 1000 hands up and down. (laughing) - Yeah.
- You know what I mean? And that would be like one drawing would sort of be him at his desk typing. - Yeah. - Do you read that? - I do, actually. - Then the animators would take it and they would do what they would do. - Go crazy with it. - Those guys are always plus-ing the material. When we were lucky enough to have an opportunity to work on the sequel, it was so great to be in that room and be surprised by the stuff that they'd do. Actually, there's a ...
If you look at the sequence in Cloudy one where Sam puts her heels into Flint's eyeballs. - Yes. (laughing) - I boarded that sequence and I had the drawing where like the feet go in and there's like the pillow-y eyes, but what the guys did in animation just took it 1000 times beyond that. You know what I mean? And then like the timing is so perfect and then I think the guys went back in and found the perfect sound effect for that squashing of the orbital cavity.
- Yes. (laughing) - Sorry, I got talking and then I got off my drawings. - That's okay though. It's really fantastic. I can't wait to see this one. - This one I'm kind of struggling with. I'm trying to figure out how to frame this. Let's try ... Sometimes I need to just try things a couple different ways. Hold on, let me just scribble out something here because I could have you come in like this smash the car that way.
I could have you in the background. Bringing the light pole down this way to a car. Do you have a preference? - It seems to me like you might be ... You've shown it from the side with the hands snaps the pole. - Yeah. - It might be a natural cut to just look back towards the car and have me from a reverse angle just smash the car. - From a distance coming in, yeah.
Almost break it in two really, wham-o! - Yeah, okay, I'll do that. So I'm gonna go a little wider on the car. - It's interesting to see your process where you don't commit to it right away.
Sometimes you know? Some of the drawings have come to you very quickly and others you search for ideas. - Yeah, like sometimes it's ... Even that I'm not liking. I need to find a simpler way to get you to smash that car. - Well, I was thinking even maybe, almost as if like the pole was right here and the car is just handy nearby and like almost as if you cut back this way and the cameras looking up the street at the car as I smash it from over the top.
- Right, but I'm re-saving the up the street for the reveal that you're not ... -Excellent. - Right? - Yes, absolutely. - That's what I'm fighting. I don't want to go to high up the street. - Don't want to show. I see what you're saying. - That's why I'm wondering if ... Hold on, let me try one more try at this. You guys can edit this down if this doesn't work. - No, but this part of the process, that's the interesting thing. The story boarding is really all about solving those problems and working them out ahead of time so that you don't find yourself in a bad spot when you're burning money animating.
- Yeah, absolutely.
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