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Storyboard and Animatic: Breakdown

The next project after the eyeball soup was to sketch out a storyboard and animate it afterwards in Premiere Pro and Blender. I was given the choice of two scripts out of which I was to use 2 pages for the storyboard. The scripts are for “Breakdown” (1997, Jonathan Mostow) and “16 Blocks” (2006, Richard Wenk). Both are already feature films, neither of which I’ve seen. After reading both scripts, I found a segment in “Breakdown” that I enjoyed. It contains both dialogue, action, and interaction with the environment.




I started sketching out the main story points on A5-sized paper. Initially, I used pencil for the outline and then ink for the finishing. However, switching to ink became time consuming and unforgiving. I ended up using softer pencils to increase the contrast.


From the start, I tried to follow the advice given by the teacher and aimed to draw only panels that communicate a point in the story. I started with laying out a floor plan of the scene, so I could orientate the objects and characters in it.




Second, I gave all characters simple identifiers. The main character Jeff is blank as the script never really mentions his appearance. The antagonist Earl is described as wearing cowboy clothes. So, I gave him a black hat, moustache, and boots. The sheriff has a pale hat with an emblem on it.



Third, I used the rule of thirds wherever possible.




Fourth, I neglected proper proportions in the beginning and most of my characters had oversized heads and short, stubby limbs. It eventually got better after following a tutorial of “Drawingforce” on youtube.




Fifth, I had some obstacles with presenting depth due to missing horizons and gridlines, but eventually fixed it.





The last aspect, motion, is something I need to continue focusing on in future projects.


Based on feedback from the course leader, I improved the storyboard by giving everyone basic facial expressions, used lower angles and mixed shots. I also had Earl initially look in the rear-view mirror instead of the side-view, as the script states. Because Jeff opens the door to jump out of the car, Earl wouldn’t be able to look in the side-view mirror. I fixed it by having the side door open just a bit, as if Jeff halfway closed it after jumping out.


From here on it was general cleaning-up and optimising. I redrew a couple shots to have more negative space to visualise interaction between two characters standing on opposite sides.


I lowered the camera on Earl while he’s rounding the pick-up to give him a more menacing look as he is about to shoot the sheriff.


In the end, I put it into Adobe Premiere Pro for animation and added some subtitles and sound effects. It was at this point that I noticed the sheriff sitting on the right side of the car instead of the left, as the story is taking place in the USA. Luckily, I could flip the image and only had to redraw another one.


If I could improve it more, I would add panels with Jeff and the sheriff jumping out of their cars and animate some movement. Generally, I’m happy with how it turned out.



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