Production Journal – Getting the Show on the Road

And so it begins.

Here I am, starting the first board of a new cartoon. I’ll be doing five shows in a series of 52 eleven minute episodes over the course of six months. It’s a brand new show created (and directed) by a buddy of mine, so that alone makes it all pretty neat.

I’ll be working from my studio at home but you could very well end up working in-house. Studios sometimes want the less experienced people in-house but feel comfortable with the experienced ones working on their own. There’s no set rule and I’ve done both.

So what happens first?

Well,I had a meeting with the series director on Monday and signed my contract along with a few other forms. Since I’m dealing with a studio I’ve worked with many times over the past 8 years or so, it’s all pretty much routine at this point.

I had received the script on the Friday before, to become familiar with it. Read your script before you talk about it with the director! It would be ridiculous to try to ‘fake it’ and read along as you discuss it. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this script so it’s important you understand it and get the director’s take on it.

The meeting begins.

Here is where we discuss the script and his vision for the show. And I had a few notes. Now, I love story and want the cartoon to be as good as it can, so I give my honest opinion about the script. I see myself as the ‘fresh eyes’ to the story. Keep in mind that I know the director and the studio, so if you’re new to this, be careful…they can be a sensitive bunch. They have worked very hard on those scripts and I respect that. If you don’t feel you have the experience to give your opinion, then don’t.

I do. So I did.

It was fun, right Boots?

It probably turned into a longer meeting than intended, but hey, it’s all for the good of the cartoon, man! I feel I brought up some points that needed to be clarified and helped make the visual aspects of the show clearer. Again, this comes from experience and having good story sense. I’ll get into specifics in a later post about how I analyze the script. And I can only tell you how I do it…everyone is different.

Get the materials.

I also received huge stacks of paper (so bring a big bag to schlep it home in). This included:

  • a stock design pack for the whole series with location, character and prop designs (you get this once).
  • an episode design pack which has the same categories, but for that specific episode. There could be unique locations, a new character, some new clothes on the regular characters, and most definitely new props for your episode. This happens each time you get a new show. Storyboard artists rarely design anything for the shows in television production. They get it all from the studio.
  • a copy of the first completed board as a reference. Since this was done by the director himself, it’s a very valuable resource to see how he drew things and set up gags.
  • a stack of blank storyboard paper to draw my board on. This usually has the studio and show’s logo on them and the episode name (but not always). I have done boards on the computer before, but this show has gone back to good old paper. I’ll give my take on the differences in a future post.

Now meetings like this may not happen for every episode. For me, they usually happen for the first one, then I’m let loose on my own (never to see another human being for weeks on end). But you never know, and should be prepared for them if you’re new or working in-house.

So what’s next?

I go home, take a deep breath and say, “Let’s do this thing.”

Stay tuned.

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10 thoughts on “Production Journal – Getting the Show on the Road

  1. Debi

    I feel like a fly on the wall. Which is great, just don’t swat me.

    Once more, great info. Can’t wait for more updates.

    Good luck with the job!


  2. KJL

    Thanks Debi!
    Obviously, things would be a little different if you’re doing a board for a film. Such as no design packs and they probably won’t give you paper and all that.

    Mostly just the script and meeting the director. One main difference might be that when you have that meeting, you probably should be thumbnailing out frames as you discuss the story (now this is for live action film, not animation).

    This gets you both on the same page, you get some immediate feedback and reduces revisions in the long run…in theory : ).

    I’ll be talking about thumbnailing very soon. Thanks for reading.

  3. Boots

    Indeed, it was fun… although it’s still strange for me to be on the other side of the table in such meetings.

  4. KJL

    Thanks for stopping by Boots!

    Maybe you can contribute by telling us about that other side of the table. : )

  5. Will

    Aha! So Boots is a person and not a cat sitting in a corner. Good to know.

    This was a great post. Very informative, interesting and it even had the word “schlep” in it.

  6. KJL

    Yes, Boots is the director…and he does sit in a corner…but the show is about a cat named Kat.

    It all gets a bit confusing…

  7. Pingback: Storyboard Artist Karen J Lloyd Separates the Good Scripts from the Bad Scripts :

  8. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Emma.

    SC stands for ‘scene number’, BG stands for ‘background number’ and Panel is for ‘panel number’.

    You don’t always need to use BG. It’s usually when you re-use a background in animation. So you write the number from which scene you’re re-using it from.

    Scene numbers will change from cut to cut (or any transition). And panel numbers are WITHIN the scene. You can have a scene that needs 3 panels to explain the shot/acting. So it might be SC.4 and you’ll have Panel 1, Panel 2 and Panel 3 of that scene.

    Hope that makes some sense. I’ll be creating a sheet to help with labeling in the near future. Any other questions just contact me. 🙂


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