Monday, October 10, 2011

Walkthrough A Shot: Step by Step

So I'm starting up a new shot and I thought it might be fun to document the process so that anyone interested can view my workflow :)

1. Choose a line! 
-Try to pick something that calls to you, that moves you. Make sure you love it, because you will be hanging out with it for a long time.

“Look at that, how magnificent. The boy is gone. Somewhere during the last 30 seconds you’ve become grown up. Like that.”

2. Think about your line. Back-story & Emotional Beats
Be sure to really listen to your line of audio and make sure that your scenario and your characters match the line. Don't try to force a gag in there, if it's just not in the audio. Don't choose an old man as a character if it sounds like someone in there 20s. Give your character's names. 

Write a Back-Story to help you understand who they are. For a backstory all you need to know is:
 1. Where is the character coming from? Their past
2. Where do they intend to go? Their wants

Here is my back-story for "The Boy is Gone:"

Daniel Silvers was one of those people who lived at his job. He just couldn’t find the time to come home to his family and much to his dismay had missed out on a majority of his son’s life.
 “Not today” he told himself, it was his son Luke’s middle school graduation.  Today was a day of family and specifically a day to be with his son.  He was immensely proud of his son.
Luke had quite a different point of view of his dad.  He is always uncomfortable and tends to look down, as he is never quite sure how to feel around his dad. So while he is glad that he is there, he doesn’t quite know how to behave around him. Luke believes his dad never pays attention to anything he does, basically making him feel like a ghost in his eyes.
On graduation day Luke was feeling a mix of shyness and nerves at his dad spending time with him. On the other hand Daniel was completely gracious for being able to spend time with his son and was trying to be playful to cut the awkward tension.  As they were on their way out the door, Daniel couldn’t help but think that just yesterday his son was learning how to walk. He was humbled and overjoyed at the man his son was becoming. He wanted his son to know all this and to know that he loves him more than anything in the world.  
“Look at that, how magnificent. The boy is gone. Somewhere during the last 30 seconds you’ve become grown up. Like that.”

Break your shot down into emotional beats:


1. "Look at magnificent. The boy is gone"
-Taken back at how big his son is. (A memory of Luke flashes back of the first time he held him in his arms)

2. "Somewhere during the last 30 seconds you’ve become grown up."
-He is proud. Straightens up, like a military sergeant giving a promotion.

3. "Just like that"
-Playful, bends down and snaps fingers to signify how quick it has all happened.


1. "Look at magnificent."
-Uncomfortable, having trouble looking him in the eyes. Looking down at the floor.

2. "The boy is gone"
-After he says this he begins to see that his dad has been paying attention to him this whole time and a small smile begins to form.

3. "Somewhere during the.."
-Happiness grows, his dad is becoming Superman in his eyes. He begins to feel a bit embarrassed, like when your parent brag about you to their friends while your in the room.

4. "last 30 second you've become grown up"
-Proud of himself for his accomplishments, begins to lift himself up, throw his chest out a bit.

3. Storyboard & Video Reference

Now begin to do a roughs storyboard so that you know how you are going to stage your characters and where you want the camera to cut. I just made some quick stick figures in paint and changed when they cut using premiere. I experimented with a few different versions until I settled on the video below.

Video Reference:
Begin to film yourself acting out your line. Be sure to use all the information you've gathered up in the previous steps. Keep the emotional beats at the forefront of your mind. Record and experiment over and over again. It took me about two days of recording myself to finally settle on this final video that captures the shot I want to create.

5. Drawing

After I've solidified my video reference to a perfectly planned ballet, I jump into my drawings. Drawings are a very functional way of deciphering information from your video reference, so that you don't have to go back and grab this information while you are animating. It forces you to think of what you want to do before you jump into the computer. It's very important that you only draw your Key Poses, you do not need your Breakdowns or inbetweens. (Use small arcs and words to describe the movements in between, not entire poses) Try to find the poses that are super essential to telling your story.

Here is the information I take from my video reference:

-Line of action on my characters
-Staging, who has higher or lower status? (Who is higher up on the frame or lower) Does this change?
-Hip direction, which side is up, which side is down. Which side is facing camera or away
-Shoulder direction. (Same as hip info)
-Head/Eye direction
-Negative space between limbs, torso, legs and head 
-Watch overall path of the body for variation and changes in line of action
-Facial/Emotional Beats. (Eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, mouth)

I also like to write small notes for myself on the path of the motion between these poses, a simple arc up or down illustrating the path of the head or torso.

Ok, so now that all that hard work is behind us it's time to jump into the computer! YAY!!!!

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