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What to do w/o storyboard


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#1 Rich Hibner

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 02:33 PM

I cant' find a storyboard artist and the software out there takes up too much time.
What do you do? Just try stick figures? Or get on set and just play around? I want to
just go and look at the storyboard and get the shot done. Any suggestions?
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 02:50 PM

depends what you're doing . . .

action sequence. . .yeah, story board that

dialogue scene of two actors, watch them move, watch the blocking and trust in your instincts. . .

or try doing a shot list

stick figures


over head drawing. . .

all of the above, or none of the above.

I don't normally do boards, unless it's an action sequence. I do a shot list as to how I see the film, and then i get with the director, present my ideas, listen to his ideas, and sort this out well before we shoot. That, or I'm stuck w/o any pre meetings and thrown to the lions and I sort it out as we go along, same as shooting a documentary almost, trusting in your gut, and being aware of the world at large.
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#3 Andrew Koch

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 03:03 PM

Could you be a little more specific about your shoot? Are you the cinematographer, the director, etc...

In my opinion, the need for storyboards depends on the situation. If you are shooting a basic dialogue scene between two people and you know how you are going to cover it, a simple shot list should suffice. Then on set you can be creative and mix it up as long as you keep on schedule.

I think stick figures are okay if the shot is not incredibly complicated. If you are going to be doing a lot of effects work and greenscreen, then you should probably consider more detailed storyboards.

When I am shooting something for a director, I will make my own storyboards for myself whether the director decides to have them done or not. I don't even necessarily use them. It's just a way for me to think through several possibilities. This allows me and the director to be more flexible on the set, because I have already thought things through.

I think storyboards are helpful as long as we don't try to always copy them exactly on the set. Some directors feel that they have to frame the shot EXACTLY like the drawing. This is often unrealistic. Things will happen on set that will necessitate changes to a shot. Or maybe something different just feels right at the moment. Trying to stick to the drawings can be quite stifling at times like this. I once worked with a director who had very specific storyboards. The problem was the whole film was handheld and the actors rarely hit their marks. I had to veer away from the pictures sometimes on the spur of the moment to keep the actor from completely leaving the frame which really frustrated the director because so much work had been put into the drawings.

Some who are new to storyboard drawing create images that are physically impossible to photograph because the perspective is off or objects are drawn larger or smaller than they would actually appear. This is fine as long as the filmmakers acknowledge this and are willing to be flexible.
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#4 Rich Hibner

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 01:13 AM

Thanks guys. I'm going to be acting as the director and photographer.
I did some shots lists today, but in my own format. Any examples of how one should actually look? I saw one on set a long time ago, but their movie never got made either, so who knows if it was "industry" format.

Basically I'm breaking the action part of the story, and when I say action not Michael Bay, but just the detail, and putting the shots under neath each one. Example:

INT. HOUSE - NIGHT

Mark walks around as he looks for his keys. He glances over at the table across the room as they rest comfortably on a night stand. He makes his way over and picks them up.

Mark
There you are.


This is how my format would look:

Mark walks around as he looks for his keys
Long shot/Med shot

He glances over at the table across the room as they rest comfortably on a night stand.
Close up Mark
Close up keys on table


He makes his way over.
Long shot of mark walking over
Rack focus behind keys


Mark
There you are
Close up on Mark
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 01:18 AM

You could video or still shot storyboard. Go around to your location with a couple of actors or just a few of your friends, set up what you think your shots might be with your friends as stand ins and video or snap shot the sequences.

I personally have been experimenting with using Barbie, GI Joe and Ken dolls on miniature sets to storyboard because it's very quick and you can change angles with no trouble what so ever. You still have to scout locations but you can actually photograph the location, put it on the computer, the set the dolls in front of the screen (I did this with a R/C PBR set on a green leather sofa , which when lit right, looked sorta like river water because of the wrinkles, and using some shots of the moon through the trees I had taken, it actually looked cool.) OR use the photos as a guide for the miniature sets.

I have a surveillance system with a monitor with a built in VHS recorder and 4 miniature color digital CCD cameras with S video out that I cabbaged onto after my parents shut down a hobby shop they owned. I can, and have, actually set up multi camera shots to check which angles I liked best. We even went so far as to set up a few LCD miniature lights we fabricated to approximate possible lighting setups and preliminary test gel samples. The idea for miniature sets and small cameras came from Peter Jackson's use of miniature sets and a lipstick camera to set up shots when he was making Lord of the Rings. The use of the dolls came from other people using artist's wooden figures to storyboard, but those are kinda expensive and since I have nieces and nephews who outgrew their dolls and gave them to me when I came up with this idea, I got all this stuff for free. The other advantage of using commercial toys like Barbies, GI Joes and Ken dolls is having all the props, costumes, and set piece anyone could want already made! There is furniture, cars, guns, plates, cups glasses, spacecraft, jeeps, houses, sinks bathtubs everything you could possibly imagine to use for miniature sets at next to nothing in thrift shops or in my case, nothing because my nieces and nephews where spoiled rotten and had every accessory available. I can even do crowd scenes because they gave me like 40 dolls.:D . The Barbie stuff is mostly pink but Krylon takes care of that if it bothers you. The only think that really kinda bothers me is Barbie and Ken are always smiling which bugs me in a serious scene.......ACTORS! :rolleyes: :D

When I was working on The Black Sky, I built a scale miniature flight deck set and was able to test a LOT of shots in this relatively small space so I could find variations and the shots wouldn't become repetitive as there were several scenes on that set. It have the exact same restrictions as the full sized set and let me know exactly what i could and could not do with the camera. I also painted a down and dirty starfield onto a sheet Formica which would bend into a curve (and because I had it on hand), set it into a 20 gal fish tank, suspended a piece of lava rock with fishing line in front of the "starfield" , set up a couple of 500 babies with blue and green gel and shot some smoke into the tank with a fog machine, I then video taped the scene with the lens of the camera pressed up against the end of the tank and used a laser pointer to "shoot" at the rock to test if the asteroid sequence could be done practically, or if not, what we would want to strive for with CGI. Despite the fact that it took me all of maybe 2 hours to set that test up which INCLUDED finding all the crap, it was surprisingly cool looking. I even built a scale model of the ship to test if we wanted to go that way or go CGI and found some amazing angles too shoot her at using the model.

When I back burnered that project and began work on Blood Moon Rising, I used the GI Joe Jeep as a substitute for the actual military version International Scout, which will be the hero car in Blood Moon, built some miniature mesquite bushes outta actual mesquite branches and used a 13 in monster figure I had acquired somewhere along the way to test some ideas for the desert shots.

What I like about this method is the speed. I actually drew complete storyboards for Black Sky, every single shot and it took me over 3 months. After I had done the story boards, I started experimenting with what i call Doll boards. With this method, you can have some friends read the script, record it while they read, video the doll story boards, edit it together toss in some canned music and sound effects and get a pretty decent idea of what your movie might look like. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 10 August 2008 - 01:22 AM.

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#6 Rich Hibner

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 01:41 AM

The fist part you mentioned I had already thought about. I don't have an SLR camera to determine proper framing...but yeah, good idea.
Your second part does sound like a great idea too, I just don't have access to all that stuff...you do. My nieces and nephews are sill young and be pissed if I took their toys to suffice my needs of storyboarding.

I have the locations set and since I'm directing it, I have a really good idea how I want the shots...it's just that I want to be bam, bam, bam, on set with the different angles.

thanks for the advice man, i'll try next time with some action figures I have saved when I was a kid.
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 02:35 AM

I use Adobe Illustrator to print a grey lined, story board grid on the back of each script page. I'll squeeze 25 little rectangles on the page. Most of my illustrations are simple stick figures drawn in eraseable pencil. Then I go over the final decisions in pen. I scan the drawings into a PDF doc and print the script out en-masse. In short time, you get good at getting the size of the figure right. All you need is an oblong circle for the head, two circles for eyes, a semicircle for a nose and a shape to indicate the mouth. Then, you use arrows to indicate actions of characters or camera. It's really surprising how empowering simple stick figures can be to your crew. They and the actors will get right on with their work and not load you to death with questions. All based simply on the stick figures. It is the basic information that pre-answers about 3/4's of their questions. It becomes a visual shorthand.

I know it seems goofy, using stick figures. But, it really provides a sense of confidence in the crew and trims a lot of confusion out of the shooting day.
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