zhevickmeister asked: Hey Lesean! I've got a question about storyboards for portfolios. I've had various teachers at school tell me different things but what would you consider the standard of cleanliness for presenting boards? I've seen some of your drawings with construction lines still in them and others sooo clean, they can be used for key animation. What keeps me torn are some of Disney's recent boards for Tangled&Frozen. They're really sketchy.
Thanks for reaching out and that’s great question. Truth be told, there is no one right or wrong way to do storyboards. It all really depends on the production, the needs and standards of any said production. On one hand you have outsourced TV show productions which conventionally dictate that boards have to be extremely tight and on model. Why? Because they don’t handle layout or usually know who the layout artist is (Sad, I know) so it’s needed usually in order to hopefully ensure the most control over picture once it leaves pre production abroad.
Different directors have different skills and access to different resources; for shows that encompass all production in house (pre/main/post) emphasis on boards aren’t really necessary, so long as the jokes, intent and narrative is translated clearly. They rely on layout to REALLy get to the bones of animation (staging, lighting, composition and models—model check cleans up the mess).
Some directors who storyboard cannot help themselves as they are extremely talented draftsmen/women who can visualize their sequences in great detail even though they have an amazing layout/animation team to support them. Take Satoshi Kon (RIP) for example. here are some of his TOKYO GODFATHERS Boards:
And then, there’s Mamoro Oshii, acclaimed director of the classic GHOST IN THE SHELL:
As you can see these would be considered ” primitive” storyboards, however, not everyone has the production vision and accomplished writer/filmmaker experience that Oshii does, or blessed with Layout artist & animation phenom Kazuchika Kise at the helm of their animated project.
Some boards have even less information, but with the help of a strong main production team, it’s not necessary so long as it’s clear enough, image-wise. Here are some even messier storyboards from Gainax’s Evangelion:
Details regarding storyboards and their complexity vary from project to project & dependent on how much control any said director has on their overall final picture of their film or episode. This isn’t including storyboard artists who are also animators and layout artists (rare in American TV Animation production), as that can also have an impact (seeing as they do the subsequential stages of animation production, their storyboards benefit largely from knowing whats needed and whats not needed because they are experienced/knowledgeable about the following stages as well and who will be doing them).
As for me, I was raised on a healthy diet of Katsuhiro Otomo, Satoshi Kon, Yasoumi Umetsu & Hayao Miyazaki story boards and have hoarded their works in my personal collection. Their level of detail is something I’ve learned from as a growing, aspiring comic book illustrator. Since I have had less experience in my career seeing the entire production of projects I direct to finish at every stage, I’ve had to adhere to the conventional standards of TV animation pre production, which is " the more detailed, hopefully the less you have to worry about them getting it wrong overseas."
This “pink elephant” or “blind production” process in standard, subcontracted TV animation production was never something I approved of, but it is such the case in mod TV animation productions in the states (Not so much for me in the last 5 years). Much less so for CGI/2D features and smaller projects as their layout crew are usually in house with them to communicate wth.
As for you, the main concern should be your ability to emote expressions clearly, have a solid grasp of storytelling ability and communicating your ideas clearly. That’s mostly what productions look for regardless of whats compartmentalized production-wise. How detailed your boards should be will be something that matters once you’re hired and plugged into said studios pipeline process.
Good luck! :-)
Kill la Kill Ep. 20: This episode was “possibly my most favorite out of the series” for the guy who jerks it over the keyframe samples in the Trigger newsletter, i.e. the only reviewer I take seriously anyway, so whatever Tatsuru says is fine by me: this is clearly a superior episode, insofar as there’s only four chapters left and the show is basically a plot machine now, and what we’re getting here is basically power chord after power chord - Gamagoori throwing himself out of a helicopter, supporting dudes saluting the heroes in dramatic harmony frame, sisters borrowing each other’s clothes, etc.
I don’t really have anything to say about the story at this point — haven’t for a while, to be honest — but I think it’s worth drawing a little attention to one of the less-covered aspects of the show’s production, which is to say its storyboarding. Kill la Kill isn’t a show like Space Dandy where a good deal of immediately discernible on-screen autonomy is allowed of the individual episode crews; this is serial program from a semi-untested studio, interested in serving up a steady aesthetic. Probably, there is not a lot of money to spend on too many showoff-y cuts.
However, the second half of this series has nonetheless seen an unusual number of ‘name’ talents tackling the storyboards for individual episodes, starting with director Imaishi himself on episode 13. Like, the guy who directed that Subaru ad, who’s making the live-action Attack on Titan movie, and FX-directed the ’90s Gamera movies? Shinji Higuchi, old-school Gainax? He did the ‘first-act’ climax episode: 15. Lots of old-school Gainax - Masayuki did an episode, 14. Or even fucking Mahiro Maeda, who dates back to Daicon IV, and I don’t believe worked on any of Imaishi’s Gainax projects - he storyboarded the huge infodump episode, 16, maybe with an eye on the *gigantic* infodump (“Second Renaissance”) he so memorably did not render incoherent for The Animatrix. And that’s not even getting into episode 17’s turn by Shinobu Yoshioka, director of Black Rock Shooter, the television iteration of which employed Imaishi and other Team Kill stalwarts in the early part of the decade post-Panty & Stocking. So much history to imagine!
This particular episode is storyboarded by Akitoshi Yokoyama, a well-traveled animator and longtime collaborator of the great Masaaki Yuasa; Yokoyama was the majority episode director on both Kaiba (which he also co-wrote; he’s the only writer credited with more than one episode besides Yuasa himself) and The Tatami Galaxy. Indeed, in 2013 Yokoyama directed a television series of his own, Photo Kano, which appears to take the repetitive structure of Tatami in a decidedly more otaku-friendly direction (I haven’t seen it), adapting a dating sim in a manner which rewinds the story to follow the protagonist’s pursuit of numerous individual girls from among the cast.
The only other supervisory (i.e. non-episode-based) directorial outing for Yokoyama of which I’m aware is a 12-minute shōjo OVA from 2012, Marimo no Hana, which was a pack-in bonus with an issue of Ribon. Apparently intended as a vehicle for AKB48’s Yuki Kashiwagi, Marimo no Hana is actually notable for its unbridled sadism, with upwards of half its modest runtime taken up by scenes of schoolyard delinquents kicking the shit out of teachers, students and little kids, culminating with the main bully jamming a fire extinguisher’s hose into a supporting character’s mouth and threatening to flood their innards. Then Marimo’s powers activate, leading into some pretty decent action of ready applicability to the present show.
I know, I know - who cares about the storyboards? Like, when people hone in on production characteristics of anime, it’s typically animators pulling off magnificent feats of drawing, because that’s the at-heart pleasure of animation: the illusion of life manifesting from the individual’s hand. You feel like you *know* an animator from their drawing, in a way you don’t quite know a storyboardist, whose task often becomes rhetorically subsumed into the auteur-y evaluation of directors (at least nominally in charge anyway, and who may well be calling the shots without a formal credit in that capacity).
But I suspect storyboards are of particular importance to a show like Kill la Kill, because so much of what makes it look ‘good’ is a canny reliance on dynamic shots, smart editing and energetic design, as opposed to a surplus of eye-popping movement - although there’s some of that too, exactly when it’s needed. Many of these decisions are agreed upon by the production team, but it’s the storyboarding stage where they’re typically codified into a filmmaking schema: how shots are framed; their duration on the screen; the basic mise-en-scène; and the fundamentals of movement, which is to say the balance of resource allocation. Of course, all of this is subject to change, and, again, there are many uncredited collaborations at play — a production coordinator assembling raw images into the familiar five-column format, chicken scratch getting translated to layouts catch as catch can — yet to have an experienced hand ‘officially’ in charge of this step of the production process can only ease the burden on a show this intent on squeezing dynamism out of its limitations.
In summary: Ryūko is awesome, Nonon is awesomer, and Satsuki fans are like superhero nerds who fell in love with Rorschach. U KNOW IT’S TRUE.