Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Students Teaching Students

Something a bit different, in the name of variety.
Every summer for the past 11 years, I've been graced to teach in the MCAD program known as Summer Expressions Seminar (SES). I've not heard yet if I have the appointment for this year, but I have hopes.
In 2010, I added a wrinkle to the assignment in my class, which is the Liberal Studies portion of the college prep program. In the past I've had them storyboard less common fairy tales.
This time, I also had them work in one another's disciplines and teach one another. For example, a painting student would work with a comic artist, or an animator, or a gamer.
The point of this was to help them understand their own craft and to communicate that craft to one another.
You learn by teaching.
Here are some panels from one of the more successful pairings.

The students, Taylor Smith and Sarah Williams, bought their own styles to the work and advacned the story at the same time.
It also serves to make the point that every discipline, including storyboarding, is much more flexible than many teachers would have it be. The boards presented here from college level courses are very professional, but that has its down side when teaching the novice. A good teacher will find a way to encourage students into growing into a desired result, not to browbeat them into doing the work in one regimented way. This assignment is an attempt to recognize that and encourage both professionalism and a sense of freedom and accomplishment.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Storyboards: The Man Who Shot liberty Valance, part 6

I've not taught studio for a while, and so have neglected this blog. As I have a backlog of material and hope to have more soon, it seems a good time to pick it up again. My apologies to the faithful readers. I will make amends for my absence, starting now!
Here's the next frame of the Liberty Valance storyboards.
Again the definition of the shot as "over the shoulder" is a bit vague. Looking at the depth of field, I'd be tempted to just go "long shot" on this one. It's a fairly static camera.
What's noteworthy here are the stage directions. The doctor throws the chip and it bounces on the table. This is clear both in the caption and in the image.
Once again, I love the tones of those French gray markers!
Working backwards affords a luxury that a storyboard artist doesn't have in a real-world environment. It's not your job to block out all character and camera motion, though understanding these things is crucial.
It's your job as a storyboard artist to apply images to the words of the script. That's it.
But to really know how to do that, you must understand both the theory and practice of filmmaking. This is problematic. The language used on a shoot is often quite different than that used in classes. And all these languages evolve over time.
So which language do you use? You use the one that best suits the needs of the director with whom you are working.
Terry Gilliam often does his own boards. On Brazil, his boards were little more than thumbnails. But as he is the director and he knows what he means, that's sufficient.