The Art of “Visual Writing” - 11/10/2014

Spending the second day at London by learning the craft of Storyboarding.


I spent this morning at Kris Pearn’s workshop about Storyboarding. He gave us valuable insight into his workflows and explained why it is an essential tool in story and character development. He also pitched some of his own storyboards, which was definitely both the most fun and also the most educational part.

“Storyboarding is about working fast with ideas, being loose, building a world out of nothing, failing and making your ideas universal by communicating them effectively to others”
- Kris Pearn

“Storyboarding is about working fast with ideas, being loose, building a world out of nothing, fail and making your ideas universal and communicating them effectively to others”. He of course mentioned lots of more technical stuff, like how the camera works and how it can be used effectively to convey different emotions to the viewer and explained the very basics of composition. Then, he moved forward on talking about character development — how much important is empathy and how the willingness of characters to achieve/get something shapes them. I could write all day long all these things but I won’t.

What stroked me about Kris was the way he was pitching his ideas. The only thing you could see was some rough sketches and a man jumping, running, shouting and making all kinds of voices and sound effects. His energy was so all over the place and he really had our full attention. It was more entertaining even than a real movie!

Some of the notes I took during the seminar.

And that’s when I fully grasped the importance of communication in both the arts and the entertainment industry. How important it is for you to look at your audience — whether it is your boss, your colleagues or some random people — and bring them into your world. To allow them to fully see the things just like the way you see them and make them understand why it is worth their time. I have heard in the past about masters of pitching, like Steve Jobs, but I have never seen one live in action. And it was a groundbreaking experience.

Of course, pitching is not about acting. You need to believe in your idea, to have developed it clearly inside your head and be passioned about. Because, if you don’t understand what your are talking about and don’t care much about it, why should anyone else bother noticing it?

Kris Pearn also demonstrated us how he attacks his storyboards. Each one of them were done in less than a minute and were excessively simple and effective. He always started with a simple grid and then drew in the characters and the most important elements of the scene’s environments. He worried only about composition, camera angle, character posing and emotion (or at least, that’s what I understood). He just wanted to set the scene, he didn’t render his characters or make detailed backgrounds. He also used colors only were it was essential.

This kind of simplicity and elegance are elements that I really want to implement into my process.

This simplicity and elegance are elements that I really want to implement into my process. I am used to worry about the final piece, to make everything look beautiful. And that’s because I am afraid to show work that I think that “looks like sh*t”. But that is something that I know I have to get rid of. And I will make steps this year in order to do so.

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