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MajusArts

Art Update 9: Storyboards and Animatics

38 posts in this topic

Wow, hi guys! My name is Marius Fietzek, and I am a Double Fine intern from Germany. I made this interactive application to get DF's attention, and it actually worked! I started my internship at the beginning of August, and will leave by the end of October, which is actually pretty soon. Oh man, so sad...NO. I won’t go down that road. This shall be a happy and fun forum post, including pictures!

In this post, I will describe the process of making storyboards and animatics for Reds cutscenes. I started my internship as an animator, but at one point Lee asked me to do a storyboard for a cutscene. I love to draw and have been involved in filmmaking my whole life, so I was happy to do the job. Tim added, “Don’t f**k this up,” which was a big motivation boost.

The first step in my process is going through the design document for the scene. It is not as detailed as the script for a movie, but still answers important questions such as what happens to whom and how, where, why, and when it happens. For this forum post, let's take a look at the very first cutscene for our dear Space Boy in which we see him waking up and starting a typical day. The ship's robots do all the work of his daily morning routine, and the boy is obviously annoyed. He has outgrown this life.

Before I begin drawing actual storyboards, I make tiny scribbles in Photoshop while reading the script. They help me note down the images I have in my mind, and don’t need to be detailed or pretty.

art9_01.png

After that I go through the thumbs one more time, maybe add or remove a picture, and then start drawing the storyboard.

Here's one full page:

art9_02.png

When I am happy with the storyboard, I print out the pages and show them to Tim, Lee, and Ray. At first I pitch the whole cutscene by going through each picture and telling the story out loud. After that I get some feedback, and we talk about what works and what needs to be changed.

In this case, Tim had a different beginning in his mind where the player starts the boy’s story right after the character selection screen. So I went back to Photoshop and drew a mockup for the new beginning:

art9_03.png

Tim was then interested in seeing an animatic of that cutscene. An animatic is basically an animated storyboard that gives a clearer visual idea of how the sequence will feel, how the timing works, and if it’s actually readable. With the new notes and feedback on my storyboard, I went back to the computer and fired up Adobe Flash to create an animation mainly based on vector graphics. I've worked with this program for many years now (my first Flash movie was this silly thing), and it's great for creating rough animatics quickly.

But first, in Photoshop, I split every picture element of my storyboard into multiple PNG-format pictures. If I want to move the boy around in his spaceship, I need his drawing without the background. If I am patient and super concentrated (sometimes), I name the files properly. 0303_boywideshot means its a picture of the boy in a wide shot, taken from the third image of page three of the storyboard.

As I said before, Flash is mainly a vector based program, but luckily it can handle bitmap-graphics as well. This is a huge advantage, since I don’t have to redraw all the bitmap work. The downside is that bitmap elements increase the file size of the project, and, being non-vector, enlarging it would reveal pixels, causing the picture to look "unclean." In this case, those cons don’t really matter, since I am working on it only for preview purposes and not public release.

art9_04.png

I import the picture elements into Flash and start putting them back together. Then I begin to animate things. I move around the characters and zoom in or out for fake camera pans. When there is a moment in the cutscene where lots of movements are involved, I may not have enough material ready from the storyboard. In these cases, I draw the new material directly into flash.

art9_05.gif

Then it’s time for another review, and the guys watch the animatic multiple times. If there is more feedback, I go back and apply it, and we have more reviews until everyone is happy.

art9_06.png

My last step is to export the animatic into a movie file and send it to the rest of the team. And that’s it, done and done! So, what happens next? The animatic needs to be recreated in our game engine. Right now, as I type, a cutscene tool is in the making. We will get back to you when it’s time to explain how to make a cutscene IN our game!

Dun dun dunnn!

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Hi Marius! Thank you for this contribution! I absolutely love hearing about the creative process for this game :D

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Hey Marius! :D I've been following your work since the good ol' Monkey Island animations. It's awesome that you've been able to continue to apply your strengths in Flash while at Double Fine. Can't wait to see the cutscene tool!

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Nice to see you on the forums, your interactive job application was great! It´ll be great to see how the team use your talents during yourn internship. Good luck and I hope this leads to a full time job somwhere awesome, DF or elsewhere.

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Super cool how you secured a spot on the team - even if just for a brief amount of time. And great post, very interesting to learn a bit more about how you start work on a cutscene properly!

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First of all, Marius, your application was great. Second, wow DF letting you do that and present it to "public". I think that's a nice farewell gift (guess more awesome gifts are about to come). Really happy I backed this project, this is truly amazing (and good PR, too :)). Wish you all the best Marius :).

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Cool! You got to work on Reds for you internship. Sweet deal.

I love the way the tree splits with the ship window in that character select screen by the way. Brilliance.

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Best of luck on the internship, you definitely seem to have a good grasp on this stuff. Hopefully your STARDOM in these here forums will launch your career.

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Totally awesome that you got to do this. Well done. Good luck in the future.

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Oh, you did those Tales of Monkey Island recap cartoons, too? Those were fun. You're really getting around in the adventure game world, eh?

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I wonder if more and bigger storyboards could be shown. Would be great to see the idea progression of the animatic. I'm dying to see what Tim and Lee are grinning ear to ear about.

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I started my internship at the beginning of August, and will leave by the end of October, which is actually pretty soon.
I'm curious now - when was this originally typed? Do these Art\Programming\etc Updates get written during production and released along with the Documentary episode that pertains to them, or are they written and posted "on the fly"?

Is there an approval process for the content of the Updates?

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I started my internship at the beginning of August, and will leave by the end of October, which is actually pretty soon.
I'm curious now - when was this originally typed? Do these Art\Programming\etc Updates get written during production and released along with the Documentary episode that pertains to them, or are they written and posted "on the fly"?

Is there an approval process for the content of the Updates?

It was originally written about a week ago I think. We wanted to make sure it was all approved by both Lee and Tim for accuracy/readability/etc. The subject matter of some dev posts requires more double-checking than others!

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Man! Congrats Marius! :D For real, this must've been an incredible experience. I one day hope to follow in your footsteps haha.

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Big fan of your animation's Marius! Your work here looks awesome as well. Congrats on the internship!

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Just a question that came to mi mind. Are these developer artist, etc... posts going to be included in some form with the documentary or the game? I´d love to have them offline to read them when the game is released on my kindle or my galaxy :D

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Amazing work, Marius! Hope you'll be back at DF's offices shortly after you're finished with your classes! Or maybe before then, if Tim has his way!

Also, love your art page! What was that Zak McKracken release party animation that you did? I loved the game- would have been fun to join even if I can't understand German!

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Its looking really nice, how the team and everything is getting together.

I really like that picture where you see the girl and boy in each their place but splitscreen, very cool visualization.

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Oh wow. I didn't realise you were the same person who did the I Wonder What Happens In Tales Of Monkey Island. They're great!

Congratulations on landing your internship and being able to contribute to the DFA. I hope that you'll keep us informed of your future endeavours - it'll be great to hear what roads you decide to go down.

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I believed someone would eventually ask, so why not: Would you (the team) pretty please release the finalized animatic for our viewing pleasure? I figure the game was originally going to be released in this month, and it is just the very beginning part of it and all. Or at the very least, could your release some of the animatic? It sounds like it would be ever so nice. :-)

Plus, you should totally "Monkey Island recap" the Double Fine games. Hilarity! :lol:

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Hey Majus!

You never know who's backing you ;) It's your favorite neighbourhood actor from germany - Flo, hehe... loved your application for your internship (think I told you already on facebook). Glad to see you in the forums here! You remember I told you once, YOU'll have a great career!? There's nothing in the world which can stop you my friend!

Keep the good work and enthusiasm up!

Greetings, meanwhile from Berlin!

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Congratulations on your work and securing the position as an intern at DF.

The few small glimpses of your storyboards look very promising. Even without seeing the final animation the pictures made me chuckle.

All the best for your future career!

Greetings from Germany.

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hmm, seeing the storyboards, i wonder if it would be possible to have the transition be a bit less forced. granted the arch in the spaceship evokes the tree well, but i personally (yup, random guy on the internet :)) would scatter some of the boys personal stuff so it would resemble roots and probably some wall graffiti on the ceiling resembling the slightly chaotic nature of a tree top. and contrast all of that with the sterile, impersonal nature of the spaceship. also, the tree is obviously the girls private, personal space as the city lies in the distance. i bet she runs there fairly often to engage in her fantasies. all of this would connect the characters together much better imho.

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