We Have A Winnah!

Yes,  I finally got off my butt and made a video of me picking the winner to the fabulous “From Word To Image” book contest! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this great guest post by Marcie Begleiter and the contest details at the end. If you don’t want to … Read more

Books, Birthdays and Contests, Oh My!

Okay, it’s only one book. ‘From Word To Image’ by Marcie Begleiter.

Only one birthday. Mine. Today. I’m old.

And only one contest. But it’s my first, so that’s cool.

But first a quick note to say I’m still alive.

Again. And it looks like I can only manage one post a month or so until I finish this contract that may or may not kill me.

You know you’re working too hard when you have to write “Don’t die” in your day planner. (You think I’m kidding…I actually did that. Twice.)

But enough about ‘Kid vs Kat vs Karen’. We have a guest author today! From a real author!

I’ve recommended this book before and I am doing it again. Because the new edition just came out last month. And word has it, my blog is mentioned in the resources. How cool is that? Plus it is one great book on the subject of storyboarding for live-action film.

If that’s what you want to do, get this book.

So in celebration of this second edition of  ‘From Word To Image‘ by the awesome Marcie Begleiter, I bring you a guest post by her. About a little twist to storyboarding  and pitching a film.

Then there will be some details on the little contest we’re having. I’ll give you a hint…FREE BOOK. Signed by the author. (Okay, that was more than a hint.)

Take it away, Marcie!

Visual Pitching: Storyboards on Steroids

By Marcie Begleiter
Author of From Word to Image: Storyboarding and the Filmmaking Process

Since the mid 1980’s my film activities have covered storyboarding, set decoration, art direction, prop design, graphics and even gassing up cars…basically, when a producer or director called, my attitude was ‘You need it, I’ll do it’ (within reason, of course ;-))

The pre-viz work in particular was developed once the financing has been secured, the heads of the production team chosen and then we raced against a production schedule to complete the prep work before the cameras rolled.

But lately a particular request has arrived on my desktop that’s a bit different in character.

Visual Pitching’s time has come.

With production financing a challenge in the best of times, many a director and producer are looking to walk into meetings with more than a practiced verbal pitch. Bringing in visual research that focuses on characters and settings, presenting key frames and flipping though storyboards or even showing animatics in pitch meetings have often been a key to selling Action and SciFi films.

But these materials can also bring inspiration and an expanded avenue of communication to pitches for all manner of projects including character driven stories, romantic comedies or indie dramas.

Key frame for visual pitch ”Super Chicas”
A feature film by Juliette Carillo, writer/director

What comprises a visual pitch?

At the simplest level, it helps to  convey the look and feel of the story and how it will be told in images. There can be references to lighting, to other classic films, to character appearance and even how the film will be shot. Key frames, what I sometimes think of as ‘storyboards on steroids’, are sometimes used to give a snapshot of particular moments of high action or emotion.

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One Artist’s Process: The Revisions. For Real This Time

I’m here! I’m here!

It’s the long-awaited Aidan storyboard revision follow-up. With my comments and everything.


Since it’s been a short lifetime since I started this series, feel free to refresh your memories with the introduction post to Aidan Casserly’s storyboard he has created for his portfolio.

Then you can check out his brainstorming and thumbnail post, his first pass storyboard and my feedback on them in part one here and part two here.

Then he took my notes and made some revisions. He didn’t do every single thing I suggested and that’s cool.

Though…he should have. Because I’m, like…*ahem*…right and all. ; )

But I digress.

So now we have my final comments about his revisions. Enjoy!

(You can click on the images to enlarge them.)

Page 1

I had suggested he add a pan on the first panel of the exterior of the jailhouse and he chose not to. Which is fine. But I can’t help but notice the total lack of camera movement in the board. I think it’s done more to keep the panels “nice and neat-like”.

And I say, if you want to storyboard for animation, you’re going to have to show some camera movement and not let the template dictate your story. I see it with students too. They make their camera movements to fit in nicely within the storyboard template.

Don’t do that. Tell the story the way you need to and you dictate what the panels should look like. So what if it ends up uneven? It’s all done for the TV screen, not the paper.

Without any indication of ‘cuts’ and transitions, it’s hard to tell when he wanted to cut and when it’s all one scene. As it looks now, they all look like cuts. And I don’t think they’re supposed to be.

For actual production boards, you have to show pans and truck-ins/outs. So if you are doing a storyboard for your portfolio…to get work…add some camera movement indications when appropriate.


Page 2.

This is an area where he could do some cutting since Aidan has indicated he wished the board was a little shorter. To trim it down, I would use the last panel on page one (guard at monitors) and combine it with the second panel on page 2 (guard still at monitors and legs walk past).

Then I’d get right to the close up of the guard and him getting whacked in the head. Four scenes (and seven panels) gone.

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One Artist’s Process: The Revisions

Okay. So I know I was going to post up Aidan Casserly’s revised storyboard a week ago and my comments on them to finish off the fabulous series of  ‘One Artist’s Process’. Which can be found at the intro post, the brainstorming and thumbnails, the first pass storyboards and my feedback of them as part … Read more

One Artist’s Process: The Board and The Critique Continued

Well it looks like people are digging watching me rip a storyboard to shreds before their very eyes.

I mean, can you blame them?

We’ve been following Aidan Casserly along his little journey of creating a storyboard for his portfolio. He purchased one of my fabulous Mini Critiques and is letting us all take a peek.

You can find the introduction post here and his brainstorming and thumbnailing process here.

Then It Got Really Juicy

If you look back at the previous post, you will find his original storyboards and my critique of the first half of them. All in their red-scribbled glory.

I now bring you the conclusion of said critique in more red-scribbled glory.

(Click on the images to enlarge and get a better look.)



  • Panel one, have him walk IN and let’s see him holding the bag.
  • Don’t rely only on words for gags. This could (if a real cartoon) be seen in other languages, so use visuals to support it where you can. So adding an ‘eye’ graphic on the screen will help drive home the message here.
  • Third panel. A bit more acting here would be good. How does he feel about this? Was he expecting this? Annoyed? Confident? Have some fun here with another panel or two.
  • Fourth panel, have the jar come IN to shot and the screen still with eye/required message. THEN screen changes to approved (give it the before and after poses). But we can’t SEE “approved” on that tiny screen. Consider changing this to a big check-mark (that could be green in a finished film).
  • Panel six, same thing. Maybe add a hand graphic. But hook it up by starting with the check mark, then it changes to this next request.

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One Artist’s Process: The Board and The Critique

Before I begin I just want to mention this is my 100th post! Hurrah! *throws confetti*

We’ve been following Aidan Casserly along his little journey of creating a storyboard for his portfolio. We saw the introduction post here and his brainstorming and thumbnailing process here.

Now we get to the good stuff.

The first pass of his storyboard and what I had to say about it in a Mini Critique.

But before we get to that, here’s his storyboard as it was sent to me. And yes, it is quite clean for a ‘first pass’. Which is fine and dandy.

But you can be much rougher at this stage of the game with your own boards.

(Click on the images to enlarge and get a better look.)





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One Artist’s Process: Brainstorming and Thumbnails

Here’s the second post in the little series I’m doing with Aidan Casserly. He’s creating a storyboard from scratch for his portfolio and documenting it on his blog.

I’m reposting it here along with my ‘two cents’ that will turn out to be a full blown Mini Critique of his work by the end of it.

Basically ripping him to shreds for all to see. (I kid! I kid!)

You can read the introduction post here.  I now give you his second installment. Take it away, Aidan.

************  ************  ************

Part 1: Brainstorming and Thumbnails

Click to enlarge

This is, without doubt, the best part of the entire process. I love it. I reeeeally love this part.

Now that we have our ‘story seed’, we go about brainstorming. I grab a stack of paper (just junk paper, since this is a rough and messy stage). This is the part where, no matter what, you NEVER limit yourself. Ever.

Be as stupid as possible.

Any idea, no matter how irrelevant or pointless, gets jotted down. Anything. Even if it has remotely no tangible connection to the story at hand, everything matters. There’s a reason.

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Making A Storyboard: One Artist’s Process


I guess I kind of missed a week there, didn’t I? Oh well.

I’ve been tackling a whole whack of pain in my shoulder that is tendinitis, but could be worse than that. So if I wasn’t up all the hours of the night writhing in pain, I was trying to sleep on the couch propped up with pillows for a week.

Not the makings of much creativity, I’ll tell ya that. And I couldn’t tolerate sitting in front of the computer at all.

But after much Ibuprofen and much ice, I’m now mobile. And can finally dress myself without screaming. Yay.

Anyhoo, we’re going to try something neat here.

A very whacky and all around nice-guy reader of mine, Aidan Casserly,  has started a series of blog posts on his own site about the process of making a storyboard for his portfolio.

Then he bought a Mini Critique (smart boy) because he knows how valuable feedback can be. He wanted my permission to post my feedback on his blog which I had no problem with.

But then I thought it could be cool to post it on my blog too. Partly for the great learning experience for you and partly for the easy content…me being a lazy ass and all.

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Back to School Wisdom and A Few Labeling Tips

Before I get to the meat of this post I just want to point you to two great posts from Christine Kane.

No, she’s not an animator or anything. She’s a blogger and a musician and all around creative person and pretty cool woman.

I don’t know her or anything, but I read her blog. She’s a great inspiration for the creative type who wants to follow their passion. Sound like you?

Since a lot of you may be going back to school or just starting college, I thought these two posts would be a good read. They totally fit in with pursuing an animation or film making career, being an artist and more.

Give them a read (after you read me of course).

Creating College: 5 Things I Wish I Knew as an Undergrad (part 1)

Creating College: 5 Things I Wish I Knew as an Undergrad (part 2)


Well, this is the fourth and final post from the series What’s Wrong With Your Storyboards. The fourth point I mentioned is bad labeling. I wrote:

If you numbered the scenes wrong. Wrote ineffective action notes. Have lots of spelling mistakes. Put the wrong name on some dialogue. All that kind of stuff.

Now labeling would be quite a long and detailed read if I covered everything. So I’m not going to cover everything. Because as a post subject, it’ll probably bore you to tears.

But I am working on putting together a nice guide about the whole labeling thing. So if you want that information, you’ll be able to get it.

Then I won’t be boring you to tears against your will.

So I’ll just touch on a few things here to help you out. And I’ll try to be entertaining.


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Are Your Cuts Making the Cut?

This is the third point I made in the post ‘What’s Wrong with Your Storyboards.’ That point being bad cutting.

But ‘bad’ is such a strong word, so we’ll say ‘poor choice’ of cutting.

The reason I don’t want to use ‘bad’ is because the samples I’m going to show are from one of the cool people who took me up on my free story consulting offer of a few weeks ago. And I don’t want to call anyone whose work I critique, “bad”. Because it wasn’t.

This brave soul is Fred Chung. He sent me some storyboard samples of his original stories. We then had a great webinar meeting and dug into his work. He came away with some solid feedback and (hopefully) some helpful advice to make his storyboards stronger.

So what better way to give a lesson than to use real world examples? Because let’s face it. Fred is not the only person making these kinds of cutting choices.

Trust me.

In the ‘What’s Wrong with Your Storyboards.’post I wrote:

This can be a gray area. Is a bad cut, a wrong cut? Yes, sometimes it is.

I’d say the closer in similarity two shots (cutting to each other) are, the more chance you have of it being a bad cut that must be changed. If it creates a ‘not for dramatic effect’ jump cut, it’s wrong.

Say you have a wide shot of three people and you cut to the next shot of the same three people and that shot is just a little closer, you probably have a jump cut on your hands. Change it.

Now I’m only going to get so far in this post. There can be so many variations of improper cutting in the world (I don’t mean just you Fred!), that I could write a book. So I’m going to show you two examples of one kind today. This subject can continue in the future when I see a good example pop up, OK?

Makes for easy material when I’m feeling like a lazy ass too.

Let’s get to it!

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