Friday, May 17, 2013

Homework - Boarding from Films

Things have been busy, recently. But in a good way! In the spare time that I have, I'm now doing this awesome story exercise introduced by Emma Coats: storyboarding from films. (Yeah, Emma Coats is the same person that inspired me to do those Next 5 exercises. I'm a fan.)

In the past I did storyboard a sequence from a film every now and then but Emma isn't into half work. In her outline of the exercise she recommends to board out an entire feature film (!) drawing one panel for every shot, if there's a camera move you draw one panel for the first, and another panel for the last frame of the shot. 

Emma's advice to choose a film you already know well, preferably one directed by Speilberg. Since I always want to do things in my own stupid way I of course decided not to go for Spieberg. But, to be fair, I did go for someone who is clearly very much influenced by Spielberg: I chose Robert Zemeckis' What Lies Beneath (2000).

A great film that I think doesn't have the status it deserves. During the late '90s /early 00's there was this Hitchcock revival going on. There were remakes of Rear Window, Dial M for Murder (A Perfect Murder) and of course Psycho. What Lies Beneath isn't a remake, it's a film made with the idea that this might be what a modern Hitchcock film might be like. The film is packed with visual effects (no surprise, it's by Zemeckis) but you probably won't be noticing most of 'em, (that's the way I believe visual effects should be used) the camera is constantly moving into impossible places: through walls, the floor etc.

Anyway, I've always felt that this film is terrifyng and extremely well made. It's a great example of filmmaking tradecraft. Zemeckis is a skilled craftsman and he is using all the tricks in the box with this one! I'm aready learning heaps!

Although the first thing I actually noticed was that this film is pretty hard to board using Emma Coats' instructions: so far it's filled with these ridiculous long shots, packed with camera moves. There's a lot of editing going on without there being any cuts at all. (There's an entire sequence of Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer talking at diner than walking into the kitchen while talking through some needed exposition, that is only one shot!)

So I've changed the rules a little and am now drawing every shot within a shot. Makes sense? No, I didn't think so. Well, for example, if the camera moves from a medium shot to a close-up, I'll draw one panel with the medium and one with the c-u, if the camera's then moving back to a total I'll draw another panel for that. The longest shot I did (that exposition sequence in the kitchen) was 10 panels for just one shot. I do expect that the cutting will get faster as the story moves on.

Jeez, look at me blabberin'! You probably don't get half the stuff I'm talking about! So sorry but, hey, I guess it shows the exercise is working. I'm posting the pages I did so far, they're not much to look at but I wanted to show you that I'm not just sitting here playing XBox all day!

Ink on paper (mostly a Pentell Sign and Pocket Brush Pen) I'm at page 6 now (I continued after I did the photos, they stop at page 5) and I'm currently 25 minutes into the movie. I expect that at the end this will be at least 30 pages.

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