Dealing With the ‘Crushing of Dreams’

When I used to teach, I would be the first person to see the students’ final film ideas.

They would pitch me the wonders of their imaginations either with or without thumbnail drawings.

It was a fun and magical time for them filled with anxiety and anticipation.

And sometimes fear.

You see, over time I had developed a bit of a reputation of being brutally honest when needed. If I didn’t think they had a decent story idea, I would tell them.

If they were heading towards making a “Huh? What?”* film, I would say so.

(* A “Huh? What?” film is when the film finishes screening, it’s met with silence. Then with the audience looking at each other mumbling, “Huh? What the hell was THAT?” A common occurrence in student film screenings unfortunately.)

I eventually started to call these pitch sessions “The Crushing of Dreams”.

Well, *I* thought it was funny.

So did a lot of the students. It got to the point if one of their classmates had a real whopper of an idea, a group of them would gather around nearby just to see my reaction.

Which was usually a silent-stare-opened-mouth-raised-eyebrow kind of thing.

They dug it.

Until it was their turn.

Then it wasn’t so amusing.

Sometimes I was met with anger. Sometimes I was met with appreciation. Sometimes I was met with defensiveness. Oy, was I met with defensiveness!

“Yeah, but…”, “Yeah, but…”, “Yeah, but…”.

Now, when I did these “Crushing of Dreams”, it truly came from a place of sincerity and caring. Even if it didn’t look that way to the students at the time.

I didn’t want these guys to have that “Huh? What?” film. (Well OK, except maybe those folks who really didn’t give a damn. I sorta looked forward to that sweet revenge.)

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The Kid, the Kat and the Creator: Part 3

Here we are!

The third and final installment with Kid vs Kat creator Rob ‘Boots’ Boutilier. You can find Part 1 of the interview here and Part 2 of the interview here.

You can find the intro post where I discuss my role storyboarding on the show here.

Rob continues his discussion about storyboarding, but now from the role of being a director. You get to hear it from ‘the other side’, so this is valuable stuff.

Then a little about what to do with your own brilliant ideas.

Read, learn and enjoy.

Take it away, Rob.

11. Looking from the other side of the desk as a director, what would you say are the 3 most important skills a storyboard artist can have to make *your* job easier?

Number one is an understanding of story structure.

Scenes are not just thrown randomly throughout a script – they’re placed in a particular order to move the characters and action forward (or backward in some cases).

The more understanding you have of how and why the pieces are put together, the better storyboard artist you’ll become. (Although it can be a dry read at times and is geared much more toward writers, I would suggest getting a copy of Robert McKee’s “Story”. Or attend one of his lectures if you have the money or time to do so.)

Number two is clarity of expression.

I don’t mean expression on a character’s face, but expression of scene.

Once you figure out what the intent of the scene is, ask yourself “what’s the simplest, clearest way to express this?” Your composition, camera angles and cutting should all be an answer to that question.

You want to keep things interesting visually, but don’t get caught up with fancy angles and camera work that do nothing but confuse the intent of the scene!

Number three is learn to improvise.

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The Kid, the Kat and the Creator: Part 2

Wee! It’s finally here! The day you’ve all been waiting for!

My Birthday!!! Woo Hoo!

Oh yeah. And that interview thingy. (Just kidding Rob!)

Yes, it’s Part 2 of my fabulous interview with Kid vs Kat creator and director Rob ‘Boots’ Boutilier. You can find Part 1 of the interview here. And my role on the show in the intro post here.

Today he talks about all things storyboard-like.

As an added bonus, we also have storyboard samples from Rob himself. They’re from the premier episode of Kid vs Kat, ‘Let the Games Begin’.


Now I must eat cake, throw on a hockey mask and maybe kill a few teenagers. : )

Click image to enlarge.

7. How did you end up as a storyboard artist? Was that your initial plan?

I certainly wasn’t a natural animator, and I was told by a VFS instructor early on that storyboarding was a path I should look at.

Storyboards are like extended comic strips when you think about it: the mechanics of a gag in a storyboard aren’t far off from what you would do in a 4 panel cartoon or a larger Sunday strip.

Strips are all about being economical with your drawings and making sure the gag or situation reads loud and clear – I found that mindset ultimately helped me become a decent board artist.

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The Kid, the Kat and the Creator: Part 1

Here is Part 1 of my interview with Kid vs Kat creator Rob ‘Boots’ Boutilier. You can catch more info about my role in storyboarding on the show in my Kid vs Kat intro post.

Lucky for my lazy ass, Rob was indeed wonderfully ‘long-winded’ in his answers. Lots of good, juicy stuff! So for ease of reading, I’m going to break it up into three posts.

The second will be on Friday, February 13th (because it’s my birthday and I want a stamp of ’13 Feb’ on the blog). And so you don’t have a to wait a full week for the next one.

Then the last one will be up next week.

So let’s get this ball rolling!

1. Let’s start with all that great, boring stuff about you. Tell us about your background, education and why you got started in the animation business.

I started drawing at an early age with only one goal in mind: I wanted to create a daily comic strip and become the next Charles Schulz.

I started being published when I was eleven, with local and college papers following as I grew older, but since I was completely self taught up to that point I thought I needed to improve myself by taking some kind of drawing course.

Animation seemed a natural fit for me so when I was 25, I packed up and moved from Halifax to Vancouver to take an intensive classical animation course at the Vancouver Film School.

I figured animation would be something I’d just do during the day while I developed comic strip ideas at night. I thought I’d only be in the industry for about 5 years, then move on to something else.

Over 13 years later, it didn’t quite turn out that way.

2. How about a brief summary of Kid vs Kat?

Kid vs Kat is about a 10 year old boy named Coop whose idyllic life is turned completely upside-down when his younger sister brings home a stray cat of mysterious origin.

It’s obvious to Coop that the cat is some kind of alien and is up to no good, but nobody else seems to see it.

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Shamelessly Pimping Out ‘Kid vs Kat’

Way back when I started this blog a little over a year ago, I planned on documenting my experience and process of the storyboarding job I was going to be starting.

That job was the new TV show ‘Kid vs Kat’.

It’s in the categories as The Production Journal: Storyboarding Kid vs Kat. Well as you can see, it only ended up with seven measly posts (till now).

Pretty lame.

Wasn’t quite the information-packed series I had planned.

That’s because when you’re actually working on a television series, you’re busy as all hell. That’s when the ‘Hell Week’ linky-love posts would pop up.

Oh well. I tried.

I storyboarded on this show for Studio B Productions from December 2007 till June 2008 completing five 11-minute episodes.

Then I went to Hawaii.

As a storyboard artist, you work and slave on a show that you probably won’t see on TV for about a year. Not exactly a good job for people who like immediate gratification.

Well, that time has arrived!

Kid vs Kat is now airing in Canada on YTV. I’ll give you all the details at the end of the post.

What’s really cool is the show was created by a buddy of mine, Rob ‘Boots’ Boutilier. We basically started our careers around the same time and cut our storyboarding teeth together on the first season of ‘Ed, Edd ‘n Eddy’.

I’m pretty anal about brushing the eraser shavings off my desk. So he used to put his eraser shavings all over my desk to piss me off.

Good times.

As it turns out, he’s still talking to the ‘little people’ and has agreed to be my very first interview here on the Storyboard Blog. That interview will be the next post. Maybe two, depending if he is long-winded or not in answering my questions.

Being the lazy ass that I am, I’m hoping for long-winded.

So stay tooned for that!

(That’s a typo, but I’m keeping it.)

In the meantime, I’ll show you some screen grabs from one of my episodes. I’ve put my storyboard panels along with them for your viewing pleasure.

Since this was my first episode, my drawings suck.

(OK, I think they suck.)

Let’s take a peek at Kid vs Kat “Do Not Fort Sake Me”, shall we? Woo hoo!

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