Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001

 

Storyboard Artist Adds Toon Boom to Live Action & Games Workflows

Matthew Taylor is a storyboard artist and assistant director working in live action film and television production and video game cinematics since the mid 1990s, in North America, Europe and Africa. Matthew adopted Toon Boom Storyboard Pro in 2013 and recently worked on the TV show ‘Hannibal’ using Storyboard Pro to produce storyboard packages and create animatics for the more complicated sequences. He has also worked on EA’s ‘Need For Speed: The Run’ for which all of the cinematic sequences were created and developed with Storyboard Pro.
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Matthew started his career in Toronto while still a student at the Ontario College of Art, working in television commercial production as a camera assistant. After leaving school, he pursued film and TV production full-time, moving away from commercials. He believes that the combination of camera experience with his training in interior, architectural and classical life drawing, laid the groundwork for becoming a storyboard artist.

Storyboarding Style

Then, after a couple of years working as an Assistant Director, he took some classes in short poses and gesture drawing from an animator. “That was when the final stages of my storyboarding style began to take shape,” he said. “I knew camera and dramatic framing from years of shooting. I was used to setting scenes as an AD, I had sketched and drafted spaces in three dimensions at school and now I was learning to use animation gesture drawing. All of these elements came together in storyboarding.”

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On a typical production, after reading the script and associated documents like director’s notes and shot lists, Matthew and the director meet to go over the scenes as the director envisions them. He makes numerous thumbnails, acts out unclear actions and they may walk through sets or locations to develop a general first pass of rough boards. “Often I go on location with the director and the crew department heads for a shoot and take notes, photos and thumbnail as the director pitches to the crew how scenes will be shot,” he said. “From there, I go to my studio and get the project started on Storyboard Pro.

Transition to Digital

For many years, paper was Matthew’s storyboarding medium in live action, which involves a lot of time redrawing, revising and, when revisions came in, reordering. Switching to digital storyboarding in applications such as Photoshop gave more options, but still left him rushing to organize boards sequentially and numerically in a manner that suited individual directors.

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“I’ve found that Storyboard Pro has developed and customised the most useful functions of digital drawing applications for professional boarding. An artist can draw creatively and efficiently, and at the same time has tools to reorganize, reimagine and publish a board for production. The tools include numerous storyboard package output options and video capabilities for animatics so that, as both storyboard artist and filmmaker, I can work in a comprehensive way.

“In other words, I can often supply the finished project before the project is finished. When I pitch to get a job in live action TV and film and include what Storyboard Pro can do, the producers’ eyes usually light up. This is because one complaint directors and producers routinely make is about receiving boards they ‘can't shoot’. Clarity of vision within the intense live-action production pipeline that is what makes the difference.”

 

Game Cinematics

While working at EA SPORTS on the game ‘Need For Speed: The Run’, Matthew started to use a process for the first time that moved from boards directly to animatics. In this case he was working with the games director, art director and cinematic director under a very tight production schedule of only two weeks to complete the game’s cinematic and scripted material. “During our story sessions, the three directors pitched ideas to each other – some from the script and some not - developing a plan for the game matrix and cinematic sequences, and I would draw the sequences they envisioned with Storyboard Pro as they spoke them out loud.

“To clarify shooting action, they used overhead diagrams. Once I was done and the boards were rendered, I screened the storyboard animatic sequence on a huge plasma screen that my laptop and Wacom tablet were connected to in the studio to see how it played. If they passed, I sent the animatics to the editing department who then worked with the game modellers. Back on Storyboard Pro, the revisions took very little time.

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After developing and completing the entire series of cinematic sequences for ‘Need For Speed’ this way, more recently Matthew has been working on the TV show ‘Hannibal’. Several times he has delivered storyboard packages and animatics for complicated sequences, something that is not usually done in live-action television, to his knowledge.

Animation Influence

“Some large film studio productions employ several storyboard artists, who work within the Art Department and produce high-gloss, detailed storyboards similar to comic-book art, but rarely go on set or location. Conversely, since I am a filmmaker myself that happens to know how to sketch and storyboard, I tend to work on jobs that give me time with the director, for as long a run as possible.

 

“Also, my work is strongly influenced by animation artists and the Pixar storyboard development methods – that is, the storyboard artist receives script pages as a ‘beat outline’ or map of the characters' emotional changes that need to be seen through actions. Using these as guidelines, the artist draws out the assigned sequences and then pitches the work to the director.

Having this background and using Storyboard Pro, I can generate about 25 pages of storyboards, three frames per page, per day while working in this way. Also, the fluidity of the workflow with Storyboard Pro has removed many of the problems revisions once caused. Now, revisions mean I get to see the story develop organically."  www.toonboom.com