Week 4 – Storyboards for a simplified script

We are now finishing up the end of week 4 in the RIT quarter system. This current academic year marks the last time RIT will be having classes on a quarter system as opposed to the semester system most people are familiar with seeing in college and university schedules.

The main thing to know about the quarter system is that each quarter is 10 weeks of classes follow by a week of finals, 1 week off, and then the next quarter starts up right away. It’s a fairly compressed schedule to pack in all the information a person needs to learn in the course of a class, which leads to a pretty intense course load for the students. You also begin to tell time in terms of weeks.

Week 1 is an easier week. You’re getting to know your classes and teachers, getting the first homework assignments and trying to do a quick assessment of the classes, because on such a shortened schedule, you only have the one week to decide if you need to drop that class and pick up another. Week one tends to consist of administrative duties, with the first batch of homework getting started over the weekend.

In my time in the animation department, week 8 was usually marked by someone getting stressed out by the looming presence of the week 10 deadlines, when all animators in production must have their work completed, rendered, and on the screenings server by 12:00pm on Friday. Week 8 was often punctuated by someone breaking down and either start yelling at other people in the lab, or crying quietly in a corner. After that you start to see more people sleeping on the couches and eating out of vending machines. Anything to get the work done, and to keep someone else from snagging the computer you need with one of the new cintique tablets.

Where we are now, at the end of week 4 is where the stress begins to build. Your ability to get your week done in the first few weeks has been shattered now that all your classes have you working on projects fairly consistently, and those classes that have mid-term papers have started to hand out your research topics. Week 4 is where the work begins to get harder to complete on time and your stress level starts to build towards that end of the quarter freak-out before you mange to pull it all together in week 10.

My current week 4 assignment was to go over my script again and re-tool it with an eye towards my restraints in needing to animate the piece efficiently in the time period allotted for my thesis. I was to focus on reducing the action to 3 or 4 main events, and once I had pared the script down to my satisfaction, being a set of storyboards that could be used to create an animatic ( essentially a storyboard that is timed out and set to a rudimentary sound track).

My weeks have been rough lately. I’m hoping to apply for some internships for the upcoming winter quarter, so I’ve been spending roughly an hour every day cleaning old material and assembling files to create a new demo reel for myself. My part time job at a retail store up the street has been scheduling me for extra shifts as they try and get a group of new employees trained, despite my request to have my hours reduced now that classes are back in session. On top of that, the physical nature of the work, coupled with my lack of sleep from trying to get as much done in a day as I can, has led to my auto-immune disorder flaring up again, causing me to just feel perpetually sick for the last two weeks. Add to the mix, a wedding on the other side of the country, visits with relatives, a hamster burial,  and a doctors appointment that sucked up 5 hours of my day last week, I feel woefully far behind where I want to be.

Still, I am pretty pleased with the work I did manage to achieve in this past week. I rewrote my script to a point where I think it’s much tighter and more reasonable to animate than before. I cleaned 11 seconds of animation for my portfolio ( I should have the new reel up in a little over a week), and managed to work my way through three of the newly scripted scenes in detailed storyboard form. With another workday freed up for tomorrow (well I guess technically today at this point) I’m hoping to get through another 3 scenes, and maybe even get the entire script boarded by the end of the day on Sunday.

So, for now, here are the completed boards so far and the script descriptions that go with them.

Scene 1:

Shot 1 – Establishing shot of the front hallway of Randy’s house. We can see the front door screen left and some hanging pictures along the walls. Camera is very slowly pushing in on the door (move in post) as we hear the jingle of keys and the doorknob wiggles.

Shot 2 – tight shot, side view by the door (doorknob just above eye level) as it swings open and Randy enters with a bounce to his step, we can see a headphone cord so it is apparent he is listening to music, a backpack is slung over one shoulder. Randy exits right fairly quickly, the door starts to swing back shut, the key still in the lock, a small sign above the knob visible that reads, ‘’ Don’t forget your keys!’’

Shot 3 – same side angle but low along the ground. There is a rack/mat on the ground and a sign pointing to it that reads ‘’Shoes!’’  Randy walks past it and drops his bag there instead

Shot 4 – same side angle mid-level shot not as close as shot 2 though. Randy bopping down the hall, we see him from the shoulders to the top half of his thighs. He walks past a framed quote and then a small table with various items on it, the focus of which is a letter with a post it note near it saying that it must be mailed today. There is also a framed picture of Randy’s family (keep his face hidden by a reflection or something), some college packets with “Congratulations” across the top, a clock showing that it is just before 4:00, and a calendar on the wall with the current day circled in red and all the days leading up to it checked off.  Randy walks right past the table oblivious and the camera holds on the letter (now centered) and very slowly begins to push in.

After a long pause, Randy rushes back in (headphones gone) and skids to a halt in front of the letter, cheated slightly sideways to the camera view. He grabs the letter in his left hand, then uses his right to pull back his sleeve to check the time. There is no watch there (it can be seen on his right wrist). He makes a frustrated gesture and then dashes out of frame screen left.

All we see now is the empty space where the letter was, and the small clock which Randy didn’t notice.


Scene 2:

Shot 1 – Front exterior  of Randy’s house (shared house condo type situation, 2 mailboxes) focusing on lower half of doorway over steps. Randy opens door from the inside and jumps from top step

Shot 2 – A shot of Randy’s  feet landing from a higher angle, camera tilts up to slowly reveal the full character, holding at the end on a low angle shot of his head and shoulders ( a bit of a hero shot) which is then ruined when his expression changes to one of concern

Shot 3 – Full body shot, Randy turns to his left (screen right) with a bit of a dramatic partially crouched pose

Shot 4 – truck zoom shot using miniatures and AE motion blur showing the mail truck a few blocks down the street coming towards Randy

Shot 5 – Randy reacts to the sight of the truck with some relief ( a sort of “ah not as bad as I thought” reaction), and then starts to trot off towards the mailbox (think a light jog) and exits scene left.

Scene 3:

Shot 1 –mid shot from the street  (Randy’s left) as he crosses a side street and starts passing commercial buildings, still moving at a light jog.  Camera move follows him as he passes by a few storefronts though he is outpacing the camera and moves more towards the left of the screen as he goes. The last store he passes is a bakery with a delicious looking display. The camera hold on the bakery window, Randy turns his head as he notices the display and slows down slightly but doesn’t stop ( a distraction) and exits on the left.

Shot 2 – A front angle shot of Randy moving down the street, his is now more aware of the store around him and is casually looking left and right as he continues forward. At one point he seems to notice someone he knows across the street ( we don’t see them) and gives a quick wave while still moving. He glances around a little more (this all takes place in the distance of a block) and then does a double take and stops to stare at something on the left (his right).

Shot 3 – Side view from the street showing Randy slowing to a distracted stop in front of a swimsuit display. This is a full body shot so we also see a small dog lying down, who is tied up outside of the store. As Randy stops the dog lifts it’s head and its tail starts to wag at Randy.

Shot 4 – A turn around shot from behind the swimsuits, we see Randy staring at them in awe (would this be funnier with a different display, maybe guitars or video game consoles? The swimsuits foreshadow him being distracted by the girl at the end, but this would add just another something to distract him besides food and girls if I switched it up)

Shot 5 – closer shot of Randy from the knees down to the sidewalk, as the dog walks over (going past his legs the other side)  and sits back looking up at Randy wanting attention, sort of does a half stand on his hind legs and paws at Randy’s legs

Shot 6 – Close up shot of Randy still staring at the window display, oblivious to the dog. We see him from the shoulders up and some of the opposite side of the street (out of focus)

Shot 7 – Same angle as shot 5 with the dog, having given up on getting Randy’s attention and sits back down, one ear cocks, and the dog looks to his right, noticing something  coming up the street

Shot 8 – same angle as shot 6, Randy is bashfully waving to one of the swimsuit mannequins his eyes all far away and glazed over and the mail truck very obviously drives past behind him

Shot 9 – back to the dog angle, as the dog (now on his feet) barks and starts to run after the truck from behind Randy, shot cuts just as we see the leash tightening around Randy’s lower legs

Shot 10 – same angle from the window as Randy is yanked out of his daydream and the frame by the leash under him (that we can’t see but know is there)

Scene 4:

Shot 1 – Front angle of Randy sitting up from the ground, holding his head, and then looking ahead of him

Shot 2 – low angle shot along the ground, Randy’s POV, his sneakers in the foreground, the dog is straining at the end of his leash, barking at the mail truck as is trundles on down the street away from them


Shot 3 – Randy reacts to the truck being ahead of him, a shocked/horrified/oh no! face, and then resolves into determination  as he shifts his body to brace himself preparing to stand ( maybe get the beginning of him lifting himself up, but don’t show the whole movement)


Shot 4 – side angle shot from the street of the dog still barking and straining,  and we see Randy’s feet dashing by in front of him and exit screen left, which causes the dog to stop barking and cock it’s head to the side watching him (another highly distract-able character!)

Scene 5:


Shot 1 – Long moving shot panning left as Randy continues down the block at a run, we see him from maybe mid-thigh up and space above his head. He passes a few shops and street items (newspaper boxes, trash can, utility poles ect – not all at once), a car drives past in the opposite direction that he’s going. As the car exits the frame Randy comes up on an outdoor seating area for a coffee shop where the chairs and tables require him to dodge around them a bit rather than continue in a straight line. Camera stays on a man sitting at a table reading a paper who doesn’t react at all to the teenager running by, other than his newspaper blows in the wake of Randy’s passing

Shot 2 – Front angle of Randy’s upper body, Randy dodges around the last chair in his way and looks ahead of himself searchingly, and then he sees what he’s looking for and his expression becomes a confident grin before we cut to the next shot


Shot 3 – Randy’s POV angle (camera is moving up the street – will probably have to do in post)he’s looking to his left, so we see some of the sidewalk, and the street and some of the opposite side of the street as well. We are catching up to the mail truck which is stopping at a red light, and then the white walk signs at the intersection start flashing in all four directions. At the edge of the frame we can slightly see the mailbox at the end of the next block


Shot 4 – Side view from Randy’s right so we see the street behind him as he runs past the mail truck and jogs across the street.


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