Friday, October 17, 2008

Long Time, No Mime

Sorry for the heavy delay in any updates, folks; things have been pretty hectic.

I've been waiting for the opportunity to get a book of mine back from a friend that I feel I should study again before continuing into the storyboard phase. However, because I don't like having huge gaps between progressions, I've decided to work a little more on character design.

Here are some quick little gestures I did last night to experiment with Mime's design.

I still haven't found anything that says "YES!" to me, yet.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Line Graphs - So Exciting... Not!

I'm afraid I didn't make much progress today on the project. I was busy most of the day with other things. But, I did press forward a bit in getting things planned out.

I'm trying to get as most of my information, planning, ideas, etc. "on paper," because it's much easier to keep track of things that way. One way I'm keeping track of information is graphs.

Since conflict is the most important element of a story, I started with a graph for it. When I decide what visual cues I'm going to use to indicate danger or conflict, I can use the graph to better keep track of where I should use those cues, and how much. At the moment, I'm thinking I'll use higher contrast, higher saturation, and more dramatic shots for areas of high conflict.

I did some experimenting today with creating a color script, and decided that using the beat boards in Photoshop may not be the best way about it. I need more of the "secondary" beats in the color script to properly represent the changes in color that will occur. I also need to go study some color scripts, so I have a better idea of what I'm striving for. After rather poor results from a Google search for color scripts, I'm thinking I may have to go snooping in art books. In the mean time, I'll just work on character designs, I suppose.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And So It Begins

About a week and a half ago, I sat down with my sketchbook and started doodling some character design ideas for the mime. I knew I wanted to have the same basic overall shape from the mime in my original storyboards, but I didn't fall on an idea that really made me go, "Yes! That's the way!"

I dropped it for the time being while I disappeared for a week to attend QuakeCon '08. I figure, if nothing else, the character will - at least partially - develop itself in the storyboarding stage.

However, before moving on to storyboards, I wanted to do things properly and do what is called a "beat board" first. A beat board essentially presents the major points - or "beats" - of the story. After sitting down with the Mime and Lion joke for a few minutes, I broke down the story into these beats:

  • A Mime is performing at the zoo
  • The Mime is caught performing without a permit by the Zoo Manager
  • The Mime and the Zoo Manager talk "monkey business"
  • Life as a gorilla is working out great for the Mime
  • People eventually get tired of the gorilla and begin paying attention to the Lion in the next enclosure
  • The Mime sneaks into the enclosure and pesters the Lion - the crowds go nuts.
  • One day the Mime falls onto the ground and is chased by the Lion
  • The Lion pounces on the Mime and pins him
  • The Lion is revealed to be another man in a costume
Of course, there are several more beats in the story, but these are the ones that hold it together. I can go in and flesh out the other beats later if I want, but for the sake of preventing things from getting out of hand, I'm taking things one step at a time.

After some work, I produced these beat boards:

The nice thing, I realized, is that I can use these puppies as my color script by just coloring them in Photoshop.

Now that's what I call economizing.


Back in 2005, I had a storyboarding class at the Art Institute of Dallas. Our instructor, Mike Gargiulo, gave us a very unusual first assignment. He wanted each of us to find some good jokes, and return to class next week prepared to tell them.

It was actually a pretty ingenious idea. Why go through the struggle of coming up with your own story when you can use one that's already been tried and tested for you? It allowed us to get right to storyboarding, instead of stalling for weeks in attempt to get a good story.

I brought in several jokes the following week, but one joke in particular was well liked by the class:
One day an out of work mime is visiting the zoo and attempts to earn some money as a street performer.

However, as soon as he starts to draw a crowd, the zookeeper grabs him and drags him into his office.

The zookeeper explains to the mime that the zoo's most popular attraction, a gorilla, has died suddenly. The keeper fears that attendance at the zoo will fall off. He offers the mime a job to dress up as the gorilla until they can get another one. The mime accepts.

The next morning, before the crowd arrives, the mime puts on the gorilla suit and enters the cage. He discovers that it's a great job. He can sleep all he wants, play and make fun of people and he draws bigger crowds than he ever did as a mime.

However, eventually the crowds tire of him and he gets bored just swinging on tires. He begins to notice that the people are paying more attention to the lion in the cage next to his.

Not wanting to lose the attention of his audience, he climbs to the top of his cage, crawls across a partition, and dangles from the top to the lion's cage. Of course, this makes the lion furious, but the crowd loves it.

At the end of the day the zookeeper comes and gives the mime a raise for being such a good attraction as a gorilla.

Well, this goes on for some time. The mime keeps taunting the lion, the crowds grow larger, and his salary keeps going up. Then one terrible day when he is dangling over the furious lion, he slips and falls. The mime is terrified. The lion gathers itself and prepares to pounce. The mime is so scared that he begins to run round and round the cage with the lion close behind.

Finally, the mime starts screaming and yelling, "Help, Help me!", but the lion is quick and pounces. The mime soon finds himself flat on his back looking up at the angry lion and the lion says, "Shut up you idiot! Do you want to get us both fired?"

In the following two weeks, I penciled 120 storyboard panels. Mr. Gargiulo suggested on numerous occasions that I might want to consider trimming the number of panels, but I was adamant about making the 'board as thorough as possible. My classmates stuck to the suggested 20 panels (because they were smart, and not drowning in overachiever-ism.) I became strangely infamous for this within the animation department of my school. I suppose using up an entire classroom wall to present your storyboards while your classmates could fit all their work on a sensibly sized piece of black matte board tends to stick with people. There were a number of occasions where people knew who I was before I even met them. I still laugh occasionally when I think about it. Sadly, I haven't learned to lay off the overachieving yet.

I don't have the patience to get all 120 panels of the old storyboard online, but I picked a few samples for people to gander at.

Now, to say the least, my knowledge and skills have improved quite a bit since my storyboarding class back in '05. I plan to redo everything from scratch, right from the beginning. The only thing I'll be taking from the old stuff is ideas.

Opening Words

Welcome, ladies and gents, to my Production Journal. This is where I'll post all the work I'm putting into my animated short, "All Out of Mime." My hopes for this Production Journal is that it will show, from the very start to the finished product, the process of creating an animated short.

I have made it so that the posts on this blog can be commented on by anyone. This is because I want as much feedback as possible, and don't want anyone having to create an account on Blogger/Google just to make a comment. I feel that criticism is very important when striving to be the best possible. Even though I plan to be working on this project by myself, I want the insight of anyone who cares to give it.

With any luck, we'll all learn something from one another.

Let's get started!