Thursday
Jan172013

Old School Storyboarding

What's wrong with this picture? Yes, those are storyboards on my desk, but guess what? Not a Cintiq Tablet in sight. Now, don't think I'm anti-Cintiq or anything like that. I have a Cintiq Tablet and I've done my fair share of storyboarding on the amazing device. However, we've chosen to storyboard this project on paper. That's correct. Pencil and paper. Talk about Old School.

I probably wouldn't be wrong to guess that every studio in the animation industry has switched over to using the Cintiq. It's an effective device to be sure and I guess one could give any number of reasons why storyboard artists should be working this way. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. However, after doing a number of storyboards on the Cintiq Tablet I couldn't help but be a little curious how it would feel to return to pencil and paper. I gotta admit it feels pretty darn good. In many ways it felt as though I had been projected back to the nineteen sixties when all storyboards were sketched on paper. I love the feel of the pencil and the texture of the paper. Yes, that even includes the special "drag" you get when the tip of the graphite hits the surface of the paper.

Yes I know how much faster one can work on the Cintiq. I know about the advantage of layers, cut and paste, color and all the other bells and whistles. None of those dandy extras are available when you're working on paper. You simply sketch the ideas on paper and be sure they work. In a strange way you're making a committment to the work you're doing. There's nothing there to save you or to distract the viewer. The storyboard simply has to do its job. The board has to work.

Of course, there's one other overlooked little extra you gain while working on paper. That is, the storyboard is an original piece. It's not a print out or a digital copy it's the real deal. So much of the work being done today simply exists as one's and zero's in a computer. Pull the plug or crash the server and all the original work simply vanishes. Poof! It's gone. Of course, they say such a thing could never happen with all the back ups and back up of back ups. All I know is we still have original art that was created back in the forties and the material looks great. I can't help wonder what we'll have fifty years from now - or if we'll have anything at all?

Whatever. We now live and work in a digital age and that's not gonna change anytime soon. In the meantime, I'm storyboarding with pencil and paper and for this old animation veteran it doesn't seem half bad.

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Reader Comments (5)

Bravo! Glad to hear you're using pencil and paper! :)

I'll tell you what, any 'Animation Research Library' of the future is going to be a pretty small place.....a server in a room that noone except an IT guy ever goes in.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Latham

I still would rather see something that was hand drawn on paper. I too still like the feel of the paper in one hand and my pencil in the other.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrobert alvarez

Several years ago I had the great pleasure of seeing the exhibition of original Disney art that was being displayed in Montreal after it having premiered in Paris. There was original concept art, cel setups on painted backgrounds, story sequences, rough animation drawings, sculpted maquettes, etc. from most of the animated features of the Walt years. It was particularly wonderful to be able to get up so close to an Eyvind Earle original backround to be able to study his layering technique with the paint. I must have spent about 4 hours leisurely trying to take it all in. And all the time I kept thinking that this was the last of it - as so much of the process becomes digital, there will be less and less original art in tangible form.

Even back when I worked at WDW in the Marketing Art Dept., I remember going over to The Magic of Disney Animation tour at the Disney MGM theme park to check out the cel setups on backgrounds being displayed from their then current feature, "Beauty and the Beast". Though the painted backgrounds were authentic, the cels of the character art were not. They had been xeroxed onto the acetate from the original pencil art and painted on the back like traditional cels, yet this process had become a part of history before this film went into production, as the character art was all painted digitally and composited with the scanned in backgrounds. This saddened me at the time, and saddens me even more now that every aspect of the finished film is created within the computer. Any future museum exhibits of modern Disney film art will consist of primarily computer printouts, not original art.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPete Emslie

Pete's right, it is sad, and it's going to get a lot more sad too!

.....Unless of course someone changes things. Such as Floyd doing these storyboards in pencil :)

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Latham

I imagine that any future exhibits will be of the hard drives under glass. Ooh, so exciting.

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterO Solis

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