The Shot Tells the Story: Dissecting Wall-E

      32 Comments on The Shot Tells the Story: Dissecting Wall-E
Β© 2008 Pixar Animation Studios / Walt Disney Pictures.

I’ve been wanting to do a series called ‘The Shot Tells the Story’.

Because that’s how I view visual storytelling and storyboarding.

In the post series ‘What’s Wrong With Your Storyboards‘, when it was all said and done, I said all that was left was shot choice.

Sometimes your shot choice can be flat out wrong.

More commonly though, is the one you chose still works, but there may be a better one to tell that part of the story.

So I’m going to go through all the commonly used shots and show you when they are a good choice and what that shot ‘says’.

In my series of Feature Favorites, a few people in the comments asked if I was going to do a review of Wall-E. Since it’s now out on DVD (and I bought it…yay) the question was posed again (thanks, t.sterling).

But I didn’t just want to do another story deconstruct (as much fun at that is). If you want to know how I feel about Wall-E, here it is:

Love it, love it, love it. See it. Buy it. Love it too.


So I’m going to use Wall-E as my little lesson plan. And I’m mostly going to use the first half of the film when it’s all him (and Eve) and barely any dialogue or sound. There is no better example of shots telling the story than the first half of Wall-E.

How convenient is that?

So I’m combining the two ideas and giving you a series of shot examples all using Wall-E. I may throw in examples from some other films too.

It’s either going to be really awesome or you’re going to hate looking at the little guy by the end of it.

I sure hope not.

Here are the shots I’m going to explore. These are the most common and each have varying degrees to them. You can always bookmark this page if you like and they will be linked back here.

  1. Extreme Wide Shot
  2. Long Shot
  3. Full Shot
  4. Medium Shot
  5. Close-Up
  6. Extreme Close-Up
  7. The Wall-E Wrap-Up

The first one should be up in the next few days. So I won’t leave you hanging for another week, OK?

Now go watch Wall-E so you can join in the fun.

Read the Storyboard Blog by RSS Feed or by email to catch yet another long-ass series.

32 thoughts on “The Shot Tells the Story: Dissecting Wall-E

  1. Ratul Sarna

    Really looking forward to this,,
    Loved Wall E and would love to learn from it (and you πŸ™‚ )

  2. t. sterling

    Woot! I’m in a state of pre-excitement waiting for this lesson… It’s sort’ve like “anticipation” but I’d rather not analyze such emotions right now. Instead, I’m going to watch Wall-E like you said, and begin to think of a story I can tell without words.

  3. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Ratul & T (BTW is it OK that I call you that? Prefer something else?) – Thanks guys! I think it should be a helpful series and fun to do. I’m really passionate about this aspect of boarding. (Hey, Ratul has an avatar. Yay!) πŸ™‚

  4. t. sterling

    @Karen – “T” is fine. It’s my favorite letter! Just in case you’re curious, it stands for “The”. I jest… My first name is Tirrell. I have nothing against my first, or last name, it’s just that a career counselor back in high school thought “T. Sterling Watson” sounded like an awesome pen/stage name and I’ve been using it ever since, along with dozens of other nicknames I’ve picked up along the way, some of which get translated into the characters I’ve created.

  5. Friar

    I’m trying to think of an animated movie I liked just as much as Wall-E.

    Toy-Story maybe.

    Can’t really think of any others. Iron Giant and Disney classics are great…they come close.

    But Wall-E..that’s just the BEST. πŸ™‚

    I said this on one of your earlier posts, but I think we’re entering another Golden Age of animated feature films.

  6. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Chris – I know. I just watched it again and that beginning half is so damn wonderful. Looking forward to doing these posts. πŸ™‚

    @ Steph – Thanks! Hope you still enjoy it even though I’ll be talking more ‘shop talk’ or is that ‘shot talk’? πŸ™‚

    @ Friar – Yeah, I must say it’s been a pretty good year for animated features. Looking forward to Bolt too.

    I *so* heart Wall-E though. Just watched it with my guy (he hadn’t seen it) and he adored it too. The first half is storytelling ART. πŸ™‚

  7. Liana

    Sounds great Kar-E(n) ( that darn n ) πŸ™‚

    You have caught my interest , I fell in love with that simple piece of square metal and those sad puppy eyes , the first time I saw the preview on T.V.

    Looking forward to the lesson .


  8. Nathan Bowers

    Commenter Dean is totally a spammer. Nuke him from orbit. “It’s the only way to be sure.”

    Very excited for Wall-E post, hurry up! πŸ™‚

    Oh, and I watched the Incredibles on a whim last night. For my money, the best example of “show, don’t tell”. Awesome.

  9. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Sparky – Did you *really* need an excuse? πŸ™‚ But my lips are sealed…

    @ Nathan – NUKED! I figured as much…it’s amazing they take that kind of time to look legit. (Does this mean there will be 3 sequels?)

    And the Incredibles does indeed rock the casbah. Edna kills me. Great character!

  10. ivan gozali

    I watched in the theatre. I rented the DVD. Now I may have to buy it!

    It’s subtly good. I dunno what makes the movie “appealing,” and I’m so looking forward to what you have to say!

  11. Pingback: The Extreme Wide Shot: Dissecting Wall-E | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  12. Dave Wilson

    Well, us amateurs learning something. The just released dvd has 14(?) minutes or so about how to make put artificial camera blurring into the shot during ‘refocusing’ and such and other treats for film making buffs. I bought the 2-3 disk dvd, which had extra treats, including the story of Pixar, deleted scenes and why so, and the score, etc etc. So you can rent the dvd for as little as a buck, but not sure if you will get the full ‘education’ as the expanded disk supply.

    Anyways, this website was just linked to Some of the peeps involved in making the movie post there, and we will all be happy to read tips like this. Thanks!

  13. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Dave.

    I kind of regret not going for the extended DVD package now (I was having a cheapskate day). But I am hearing great things about it.

    I’m flattered that these posts are linked to That’s awesome (welcome new readers!).

    It’s also been linked at a forum just for Wall-E Someone is ticked that I used the word ‘dissect’. Oh well. ‘Analyze’ was so…I don’t know…stiff. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the rest.

  14. Pingback: Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy from the Storyboard Blog! | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  15. Pingback: The Close-Up: Dissecting Wall-E | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  16. Pingback: The Medium Shot: Dissecting Wall-E | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  17. Pingback: The Full Shot: Dissecting Wall-E | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  18. Pingback: The Long Shot: Dissecting Wall-E | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  19. Pingback: The Extreme Close-Up: Dissecting Wall-E | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  20. Pingback: The Shot Tells the Story: The Wall-E Wrap Up | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  21. Pingback: Karen J Lloyd’s Storyboard Blog « Ravensbourne Animation Hub

  22. Pingback: Tunisian Orange Cake: A story in two shots | Dancing Geek

  23. Pingback: » Wallβ€’E - The Shot Tells the Story

  24. Netbug

    I love this so incredibly much. I hope my lessons in animation school are half as cool and helpful as these articles.

  25. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Thanks Netbug! Glad you’re enjoying them. πŸ™‚

    And for your sake, I hope the lessons ARE just as informative. Some people have told me they’ve learned more here than at school. And that’s a shame.

  26. Pingback: WALL.E Clips « Kamla Reddy – Nossal High School

Comments are closed.