Believe it or not, there are a few steps that you need to take in order to fully prepare yourself to build your 3D environment as efficiently as possible. This process is known as “pre-production.”
This week was spent mainly completing these pre-production assets. In order to complete a fully-fletched animatic for my project, I needed to write a script and draw a full storyboard before opening Blender.
A script for animation is quite a bit different than a script for live-action films. According to Jeffrey Scott, animation scripts are written in so much more detail than live-action scripts that each page in a screenplay takes up 40 seconds of screen time (on average) as opposed to the conventional one minute per page when writing a script for live-action productions. More detail must be written in an animation script because everything has to be created in animation – from the sky, to the buildings, to the landmarks, and to the characters. As I prepare to create my animatic through Blender, I need to make sure that my script is as thoroughly detailed as it can possibly be. Every detail must be written so I can see what I am thinking when I finally draw my environment.
Conventionally, scripts are often hidden from public view because large-budget productions cannot afford to have their story leaked before the film gets a theatrical release, or else the studio may lose a lot of their audience who may have spoiled themselves of the plot.
Because I am making an animatic, and currently have no intentions to flesh this project into a full animation, I am willing to publicly share my script to my readers before my project enters development. I want to show you all what an animation script usually looks like, and you will notice that there are a few differences compared to a live-action script. Scripts usually contain character, dialog, and transitional lines, but if you look at my script, you will notice that I only have scene headings and action lines. This is because my character will not speak for the duration of the project, and therefore it is unnecessary for me to add dialogue sequences.
I also understand that my script is not perfect. If anyone reading this is an experienced screenwriter and has any critiques, feel free to comment on the bottom of this post!
A script was not the only artifact that I created this week. I also drew the storyboards for my short film. This is a crucial step in the pre-production process because now I have a rough idea of what my character will look like, what the environment will look like, and how my character will interact with the environment. Drawing storyboards can be very tedious, especially if you are not good at drawing, but they will be very helpful in determining what your final animatic will look like.
There are many factors to take into consideration when drawing storyboards, from choosing the correct angles, to giving your characters the right expressions, to consider continuity, jump cuts, and to add clarity and special instructions to cels when needed. As an amateur storyboard artist, these tips were really resourceful and helped make my storyboard more complete.
I consider drawing storyboards to be the “animation before the animation” because when put together, they create an animatic that does not provide all of the motion of the final picture, but provides the full story and the expectation on what the final shots should look like.
Drawing storyboards on paper before taking to digital can prove to be beneficial in many ways. For example, drawing allows you to be fully expressive with your characters. Based on the 12 Principles of Animation, you want your characters to have flexible joints, to make their movements have proper follow through, and to exaggerate all of their actions and expressions, but not to the point where it feels too unrealistic. If there is no drawing for the animator to base the digital rigging and animation off of, then the model may appear more human than the audience would like to see.
While many people, including myself, may feel the urge to want to jump into a brand new software application, to start messing around with things and to create their final product, I cannot stress enough the importance of preproduction. Whether it takes a few months or a few days, making sure you have expectations laid out for yourself that will help you visualize your final project is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a content creator.