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Has Technology Failed the Art of Storyboarding?

There’s been a lot of discussion recently around the topic of how long it should take an artist to complete a set of storyboards and it seems we may finally have an answer thanks to a 25-year veteran of the TV animation industry.

Steve Hulett’s own in-depth analysis first appeared on the Animation Guild blog and declared that a 10 – 20 minute turnaround time for each individual panel, excluding revisions, was the norm for traditional illustrations.

Drawing for storyboards and for animatics require distinctly different approaches and Hulett was quick to point out that if a fully realised storyboard was to come about, it would have to include the elements listed below:

• Scene descriptions, SFX and camera action

• Suggested story points via character acting

• Rough timing for initial animatic development

That last one is particularly important as animatics have really only come into their own in the last decade or so but have had a major impact on both client expectations and the technical side of things.

Together, these elements form part of a three-step process in which planning, drawing, and description are central to highly optimised production schedules.

This means that if individuals and/or teams can work to this 20-minute timeframe consistently they should be able to complete a finished storyboard based off the written script for an 11-minute TV animation within five weeks.

But as Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew points out in his reactionary post to the original assessment, this is the culmination of a unique set of experiences and not every storyboard artist will be able to work to the same level or at the same speed.

Increasingly Shorter Pre-Production Schedules

Enter the swath of digital technologies like Adobe After Effects, Premier and others in modern sequential storytelling; a crucial part of the conversation that has been largely left out and relegated to the comments section of subsequent articles.

These types of compositing and editing programs were meant to make life easier for artists but their cost-effectiveness and proliferation has done much to fuel higher levels of competition within the industry, forcing creators to produce more for less.

As a result, the responsibility of producing the work to a high standard and delivering that work on time and under budget are more at odds than ever. Such an imbalance harms the value of artistic integrity and introduces a range of flow-on effects that create the conditions for compounding implications.

And so, having finally come to the heart of this particular article, let’s ask why such strict production pipelines are seemingly everywhere.

A Solution to Your Storyboarding Needs

Most studios are given a schedule of 4 – 5 weeks, but it used to be much closer to six weeks per each 11-minute interval of animation. For film, a schedule like this will depend on whether a shooting script has been developed from the initial screenplay as the time needed to translate projects of length can and does vary.

The solution we’ve found to work best is a degree of flexibility and adaptability that is replicable in the face of such deadlines. How do we do this? Well, it’s actually quite simple and no, we don’t think technology has failed the art of storyboarding — or any other form of pre-production for that matter.

At Dichosis, we offer a dynamic working method across our range of services which sees a tight-knit team of freelancers work collectively to help get your film project off the ground and into production that much sooner.

To get started, take a look around our site and contact us if you have any further questions.

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