Hey Lesean! I've got a question about storyboards for portfolios. I've had various teachers at school tell me different things but what would you consider the standard of cleanliness for presenting boards? I've seen some of your drawings with construction lines still in them and others sooo clean, they can be used for key animation. What keeps me torn are some of Disney's recent boards for Tangled&Frozen. They're really sketchy. from zhevickmeister
Thanks for reaching out and that’s great question. Truth be told, there is no one right or wrong way to do storyboards. It all really depends on the production, the needs and standards of any said production. On one hand you have outsourced TV show productions which conventionally dictate that boards have to be extremely tight and on model. Why? Because they don’t handle layout or usually know who the layout artist is (Sad, I know) so it’s needed usually in order to hopefully ensure the most control over picture once it leaves pre production abroad.
Different directors have different skills and access to different resources; for shows that encompass all production in house (pre/main/post) emphasis on boards aren’t really necessary, so long as the jokes, intent and narrative is translated clearly. They rely on layout to REALLy get to the bones of animation (staging, lighting, composition and models—model check cleans up the mess).
Some directors who storyboard cannot help themselves as they are extremely talented draftsmen/women who can visualize their sequences in great detail even though they have an amazing layout/animation team to support them. Take Satoshi Kon (RIP) for example. here are some of his TOKYO GODFATHERS Boards:
And then, there’s Mamoro Oshii, acclaimed director of the classic GHOST IN THE SHELL:
As you can see these would be considered ” primitive” storyboards, however, not everyone has the production vision and accomplished writer/filmmaker experience that Oshii does, or blessed with Layout artist & animation phenom Kazuchika Kise at the helm of their animated project.
Some boards have even less information, but with the help of a strong main production team, it’s not necessary so long as it’s clear enough, image-wise. Here are some even messier storyboards from Gainax’s Evangelion:
Details regarding storyboards and their complexity vary from project to project & dependent on how much control any said director has on their overall final picture of their film or episode. This isn’t including storyboard artists who are also animators and layout artists (rare in American TV Animation production), as that can also have an impact (seeing as they do the subsequential stages of animation production, their storyboards benefit largely from knowing whats needed and whats not needed because they are experienced/knowledgeable about the following stages as well and who will be doing them).
As for me, I was raised on a healthy diet of Katsuhiro Otomo, Satoshi Kon, Yasoumi Umetsu & Hayao Miyazaki story boards and have hoarded their works in my personal collection. Their level of detail is something I’ve learned from as a growing, aspiring comic book illustrator. Since I have had less experience in my career seeing the entire production of projects I direct to finish at every stage, I’ve had to adhere to the conventional standards of TV animation pre production, which is " the more detailed, hopefully the less you have to worry about them getting it wrong overseas."
This “pink elephant” or “blind production” process in standard, subcontracted TV animation production was never something I approved of, but it is such the case in mod TV animation productions in the states (Not so much for me in the last 5 years). Much less so for CGI/2D features and smaller projects as their layout crew are usually in house with them to communicate wth.
As for you, the main concern should be your ability to emote expressions clearly, have a solid grasp of storytelling ability and communicating your ideas clearly. That’s mostly what productions look for regardless of whats compartmentalized production-wise. How detailed your boards should be will be something that matters once you’re hired and plugged into said studios pipeline process.
Good luck! :-)