Story Refinement

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, February 10, 2011
Over the last few days I've been completing some storyboards, so I can compile them into an animatic this week. To do this I've had to really think the story and action through. Below is the breakdown of the three acts, the action is quite hard to show in the storyboard/ animatic so I've decided to keep them simple and just put across the story rather than the movements.

Act 1
The opening theme is very grande western, with lots of adventure and speed.

1 .Steam Train hurtling down train-tracks towards the camera

2. Two suitcases together being pulled along on a trolley of luggage

3. Camera jumps back to the train, closer to the camera

4. Back to the luggage, being pulled along the platform

5. Train arrives at the station

6. The trolley, still being pulled, jolts and the male suitcase falls off the back and bounces under a bench

The music turns more light-hearted here

7. Luggage comes to life, jumps up, shakes itself off and something catches it's attention

8. The other luggage has been loaded into a train carriage, incluidng the female companion suitcase

Act 2

1.  The suitcase steps out from underneath the bench, a pair of legs walk by and he darts back under to avoid being seen

2. He looks towards the carriage again, the door slams shut

3. The rail signal is shown changing and a whistle blows, as the train moves off.
The music begins to build again, gaining speed and a trumpet starts, sounding adventure

4. The suitcase panics, composes himself, stretches

5. He runs from underneath the bench along the platform, trying to keep pace with the train

6. He encounters another bench, jumps and runs along it

7. The next bench he slides underneath, still trying to keep pace

8. The end of the platform is close, up ahead he sees crates blocking the path

9. He clambers up them, sliding down a plank of wood propped up on the other side, slowing him

10. He reaches the end of the platform and stares towards the carriage down the track

11. The female companion is leaning out of a window, looking back towards him

12. He opens up, and a Tied-tie comes out and begins to spin like a lasso

13. He hooks onto a telegraph pole at the side of the track, diving off the end of the platform and swinging

14. He drops the rope and lands on a small building roof adacent to the track, the building is shown as a small rail-shed

15. The roof is negelected and is consisted of timber planks, which he begins to tip-toe across (The train is shown as getting further away)

16. The planks run out and he has to jump across to the next part of the roof, he makes the jump.

17. Suddenly the plank he is on splits and he falls through the roof, into the building.

The music drops into quite a sad and slow theme

18. The companion climbs down from the window back into the carriage, looking hopeless and sad.

19. The rail-shed is shown, it has an exit onto the track, but the inside is shadowed in darkness.

20. A shape begins to move out of the darkness with a squeaking sound

The music builds again really quickly, as the suitcase is shown in a heroic way

21. The suitcase is shown on a hand car, jumping up, grabbing the lever and pulling it down

22. The handcar begins to pick up pace along the track, gaining on the train

Act 3

23. The handcar reaches the back of the train,

24. The suitcase dives off, onto the back of the carriage

25. The female companion is shown again, sitting down, resigned

26. Cuts back to the suitcase on the carriage roof, running along the train

27. He jumps down into the carriage, spotting his companion

28. They are reunited

29. The train goes into the sunset
The music ends quickly, with a grande finish

As a list, it seems incredibly long, but as a storyboard it is more manageable. There is a lot of character animation throughout, but this is where the main focus will be. Im sure this will change as the project progresses, I will probably find shortcuts and camera shots which save time, but for now, this is the current story.

2 Responses to 'Story Refinement'

  1. tutorphil said...'> 10 February 2011 at 11:36

    Hey Sam - it's good you're at this stage - but do look for opportunities to condense or combine your set-pieces - for your sanity alone! Also, as discussed, look at ways to ensure that you're only modelling/animating the suitcase - and not taking your eye off by getting involved with 'non-essential' stuff; embrace the artificiality of back-projection; for example, you might even consider using real footage as a back plate and comping it together somehow; look for ways to concentrate your efforts on the animation, but make a great big production design plus out of the shortcuts you choose; remember, you've for a style and a set of conventions to play around with; use them to your advantage; don't get blown off track (ha ha!). I look forward to those storyboards; don't make them beautiful - make them read easily...


  2. Sam Hayes said...'> 10 February 2011 at 14:10

    Thanks for the advice Phil. I've tried to condense the story down into the set. As a list, it seems quite big, but after a quick plan, it really is just two buildings and a bit of train track. I've also had a good think about the backdrops and shots to shortcut the time-sinks of the environment. I'm going to put all the effort I can into making it stylistic and not a generic CG-scene, and I'm hoping the shortcuts will add to this rather than take away.


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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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