Now comes the part that isn't so fun, but absolutely necessary. Most artists hate getting their work reviewed, which is understandable. And most artists avoid having their work reviewed, which is somewhat understandable but definitely not recommended. Critiques, though sometimes painful to the sensitive artiste, are essential to making the work (your work) as good as it can possibly become, so buck up, cowgirl, because it's time to take it on the chin for the sake of being a better storyboard artist.
So, for the sake of our ongoing series here, we turn to expert storyboard artist and all-around smartass genius, Karen J Lloyd. Karen operates a small storyboard consulting business called See The Script, where she will go over your boards and give a very insightful review. I commissioned her services for the Scapula story here, and she gave some great advice and neat little drawings.
(Two things before we go on. One, because this is a long story, and a longer critique is attached, I will be dividing this up for now. Damned Blogger won't let me upload everything at once...grrrr. Tune in in a day or two for the second part. The other thing is Karen and myself have been sharing this series of blog posts, so you can see extra feedback from Karen at her own website)
Take it away, Karen!
* What you really have to make clear right off the bat, is that we are at a prison. How can you drive this home visually? Try a pan in the first shot (some perspective issues here). Maybe have a far off guard looking down at the yards. Pan down to the entrance…make it more prison-y. Even a sign could help, but don’t rely on it.
* Second panel, start close on the video screens, to again drive home the fact we are in a prison. SHOW us what’s on the screens. All those bars will give us a much clearer picture of WHERE WE ARE. Simple, but important thing to establish. Then pull back to reveal the guard.
* Third panel. Is there a reason for the down shot? If it is to show the shadow of the janitor walking through the background, then great. But we must really see that shadow clearly on the floor. We aren’t now. If it’s not for this reason, I may just make this a regular medium shot on the guard. Could show us he’s bored…yawn etc.
* Fourth panel. Lower horizon line for perspective to work. Can add an arrow on the legs walking. (Unless you don’t want arrows for the portfolio. Your choice, but it could use some in places.)
* Fifth panel. You need a start pose for the guard so he hooks up to previous scene. This is where it’s too much like a comic book. You are telling a story with pictures, but you’re not making a film properly (if you know what I mean). Main thing you’re missing is start poses, hook-ups and enough panels to show the action.
* Sixth panel could add a little truck-in to give the camera a little movement and the scene a little “false drama”. The board is lacking any camera movement. Again, that “comic book thing”. You don’t want to over-do them, but some well placed camera moves will work wonders and help tell the story and set the mood.
* Panel one needs a second pose to get him back to reading his magazine. Needs to hook up with panel two. Panel one and two have the guard way too similar in size and position. This creates a jump cut and should be avoided. I’d shrink him in the second panel.
* Second panel maybe have the janitor whistling, all casual-like. In the third panel, I’d dump the nose pick (till later) so it doesn’t distract our eyes from the approaching janitor. This is who we should be watching.
* Fourth panel doesn’t hook up with previous. You can start the scene just with a color card (for a split second screen time) and have him rise up FAST into the scene with mop overhead. Fast, funny and hook-up problem is solved.
* Fifth panel needs a start pose. This panel can work in a comic, but animators need to know what the very FIRST drawing they draw should look like. And this isn’t it. We need that split second before he gets whacked in the head. This could be your nose-picking pose to add a little humor to the humor.
* Sixth pose needs to hook up. He can’t be getting whacked in the head and lying on the floor at the same time. We gotta GET him to the floor. Three panels. First one is the ground. Second one, he falls IN. Third one, janitor walks IN from behind.