The Art of the ‘Hook-Up’

      12 Comments on The Art of the ‘Hook-Up’

You want to know how to hook-up?

Well, first you’re going to need a lot of liquor and…

Oops…wrong hook-up.

I mean hooking up your storyboard panels and scenes. Not you.

Sorry to disappoint. 😉

Warning: long ass post ahead with lots of images.

This is the second point I made in the post ‘What’s Wrong with Your Storyboards.’ That point being bad continuity and missing hook-up poses.

I once took a course in Script Supervising. The Script Supervisor works in live-action film and television and is responsible for all the continuity on a show or movie. It’s quite a detailed-oriented job and I was pretty good at it…being the organized, anal person that I am. I just never did much with it when the course ended.

But I did come away with a highly tuned awareness of continuity errors in movies that I didn’t have before. The instructor told us of all sorts of mistakes in ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘Terminator 2’ and others.

When I got home and popped ‘Pretty Woman’ into my VCR (yes, I still have some VHS tapes…sue me) I started to see what she was talking about.

Julia left this side of the frame and walked back in on the wrong side. His tie is on, his tie is off, it’s back on again. The croissant suddenly turned into a pancake (OK, I admit I had always noticed that one!).

There really are lots of them in that movie.

Why had I barely noticed before?

Because I was enjoying the movie!

I was more interested in the story and characters, so my mind just bleeped right over them. That is really good news for the movie. If all you’re noticing is mistakes while you’re watching, then it must be a pretty crappy movie that can’t hold your attention.

I once rented the DVD and listened to Gary Marshall’s commentary. He knew there were tons of continuity errors when they were editing the movie. But he said he always selected the take with the best performance the actors gave. Continuity be damned. He didn’t care if he looked bad, he just wanted them to look good. I thought that was pretty cool.

So I forgive ‘Pretty Woman’ and Gary Marshall.

But I’m not so nice when it comes to animation.

In cartoons, there is no excuse for bad continuity.

In cartoons, we edit before we animate. It is the storyboard’s job to make sure the cartoon has no continuity errors. They are revised over and over and looked at by many different people. There should be no mistakes (we hope) by the time animation starts.

Let’s think about it. In an animated series, there are many different animators working on many different scenes. And they are not working on them in chronological order or are they looking over each other’s shoulders to see if the whole show comes together seamlessly.

It has to be worked out before the animation starts. With you. The storyboard artist.

That’s where the ‘hook-up’ comes in.

The hook-up pose is the glue that holds the cartoon together. If you cut from one character (or more) to a different scene entirely, you don’t have to worry about the hook-up. It doesn’t apply.

But when you cut to a scene with one character (or more) to the next scene with the same character(s), then you have to hook-up the poses. Which means the character’s pose in the last frame of the first scene and the first frame of the next one should basically match.

Better to show you, right?

Today we’re using ‘The Little Mermaid’ because Ariel and Julia Robert’s character have a lot in common. They both want a prince to save them and they “save them right back”. It’s true! Ariel saves his ass a couple of times. She just doesn’t get much credit for it.

Another disclaimer: I have left out many poses (and some scenes) for length’s sake. And this is a feature film that I’m treating as if it were for TV. Just illustrating a few points here.

Here we go!

First off there are continuity errors to avoid that are similar to ones in a live-action film. Such as:

Close on her bare feet. Stuff happens. Cut to other scenes of people reacting, she gets her voice back, yada yada yada. Then…

Shoes! There is no logical excuse for this. It’s just a mistake. Lesson to learn: always make notations on the storyboard of any model/wardrobe changes in a sequence of scenes. It can easily be overlooked.

Here’s another one.

Here’s the end of this particular scene. Take note of Ariel and Ursula’s pose.

This is the first pose of the next scene. It’s not a perfect hook-up, but close. Ursula should have clenched teeth and Ariel should have her eyes closed. Mind you, it happens so fast that you don’t notice. But if I was doing this board for TV, I would make the poses match.

The scene continues and Ursula antics to jump into the ocean. Note that Ariel is wearing clothes (but is a mermaid).

It cuts to Erik approaching the rail and leaning over.

Then it cuts underwater with Ursula dragging Ariel behind. Note that Ariel is no longer wearing the clothes. A mistake? Yes and no. Because there can be a logical reason she isn’t wearing them. (Unlike the shoe incident.)

They could have fallen off during the decent into the water while we were watching Erik. Ideally, if they showed the clothes just floating away at the top left of the screen, it would have been wrapped up nicely. It’s a good ‘cheat’ to ditch the clothes.

Cutting to Erik breaks up the action. And they wanted to get rid of the clothes (a pain in the butt that is no longer needed) for the rest of the sequence. Lesson to learn: ‘logical cheats’ are a good thing when done right.

More hook-ups:

OK, here’s Ariel realizing she has no pants has legs for the first time.

She starts to lift her foot.

We cut and there’s the hook-up pose (in the action notes you can label it the ‘start pose’ as well). Again it’s not perfect (we see toes) but it works just fine.

Here’s the real action of the scene – her lifting her foot. But if we started here, it wouldn’t match up with the previous wider shot. Make sense?

She wiggles her toes, laughs, yada yada yada and then looks off screen at Scuttle’s voice.

Cut wide and see how her pose hooks-up. The other two little guys don’t matter because they weren’t in the previous scene. We’re only concerned with Ariel’s pose. This is only for a couple of frames.

Then Scuttle flies in towards her.

The camera trucks in a bit as he *starts* to land on her leg.

Cut to the hook-up/start pose. Notice how Ariel and Scuttle are in basically the same positions.

And so he lands. More action, more yadas. Again, this can’t be the first pose because in the previous scene he hadn’t landed yet.

So there you have it…the hook-up. I hope it made sense. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Now you want to know how to *really* hook-up?

Guys: Never touch a woman until she touches you first. I mean no arm, no shoulder, no back…nothing. If she digs you, she’ll touch you first. Seriously. When I was single, any guy who touched me first was a creep. The ones who didn’t…nice guys.

Ladies: Beware of guys who touch you first. And now beware of the ones who don’t. They might be an animation artist who reads storyboard blogs.

And you can never trust an animation artist. 😉

Read the Storyboard Blog by RSS Feed or by email for more useful dating tips.

12 thoughts on “The Art of the ‘Hook-Up’

  1. yvonne

    Is it just me or is there a problem with the hook ups in the BGs of the last few frames where Ariel is sitting in the water? Rocks…no rocks…behind her.
    If i had it on dvd…or vhs 😉 I’d check.. Maybe it makes sense when watched?

  2. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Yvonne,

    Yes and no. It can look like they ‘disappeared’. BUT there *are* rocks in the shot…they are smaller and lower.

    They have ‘moved the camera’ to be more at the front of her (almost straight on) and at a lower angle (bit more of a up shot). So the rocks on the right are the low ones that are behind her back in the wide shot.

    The ones on the left are kind of the ‘start’ of the huge pile that we see in the wide shot.

    It’s a bit of a cheat that still works. This made for a cleaner silhouette of Ariel. And the sky and bits of rocks look better than a *wall of rock* behind her. A nicer composition if you will.

    I can see how it looks like they disappear but when you think about where they’re placing the camera, it works. At least for me. Hope this makes sense. 🙂

  3. T. Benjamin Larsen

    Slightly off topic Karen. But I find your comment about not noticing script-errors when enjoying the film translates to other problem-areas as well. I always find that whenever I am not swept away by a film I immediately switch on the analytical part of my brain.

    So when a film suck I often leave the theatre with a fairly detailed idea about structural weaknesses in the plot (which is the area I know most about).

    In many ways this is a good thing for my own projects as contrary to [un]popular opinion you can learn from the mistake of others.

  4. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Ben,

    I’m totally with you on learning from other’s mistakes. How could you not (’cause, like, people make so many… : ) )

    When the story isn’t working for me, my mind drifts as well, and I start thinking logically about the whole thing. I know when I start thinking “I wonder how they filmed that scene?” that the film is in trouble. I do what you do too. Later on, I like to think how it could’ve been told differently to work better.

    That’s why when I say I ‘bleeped’ over continuity errors in Pretty Woman, it was because I was enjoying myself and *not* in that way of thinking. It’s great when you get so wrapped up in a film that you even forget you’re in a theatre with strangers. Love it.

    Gets far and few between sometimes though… 😉

  5. Mat Brady

    Hi Karen,

    I agree with you about the general scene to scene hook-ups, but not with action scenes. When it comes to cars running into each other, and large impacts or explosions, then perfect hook-ups don’t work. Cutting from an impact, to another angle just before the impact, and sometimes yet again from another angle, will help a viewer guage what’s going on from the action and extend the wow-factor.

    I think what you focussed on here seems to be common mistakes made by storyboarders though, and not so much an overall guide to hooking up.

    You’re an entertaining writer. I enjoy reading your blog. 🙂



  6. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Mat and welcome!

    Well, I certainly never meant to imply that this post was a ‘complete guide to hook-ups’, that’s for sure. Just like the post ‘How to Not Cross the Line‘ is *far* from a complete guide to not crossing the line. 🙂

    It was meant for beginners and people who don’t quite understand the concept or overlook it. There are other areas where you don’t have to hook-up…like in montages. And for action scenes like you describe, it can be very effective to back up a bit with each cut as you’ve explained. That could be considered more as a style and not necessarily a ‘rule’ for action scenes too.

    But I agree it can be *very* useful for fast cutting action scenes. And it’s probably more common in live-action too. Though it can certainly be done in animation. You just have to know what you’re doing.

    My post was just meant as another ‘learn the rules before breaking them’ (or before you learn the exceptions) kind of thing.

    Thanks for your comment and input! Greatly appreciated. 🙂

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