Decide whether or not you’re going to use linear (beginning, middle or end) or non-linear storytelling.
Start by setting limitations
Who is involved? (list characters)
Where does take place?
What is taking place? What is the situation? (Ex. Birthday, wedding, election, road trip)
What are some of the possible conflicts? What weaknesses do these characters have? What dangers? Are they searching for something?
Keep it Real!
It’s a good idea to use reality as inspiration. We are going to be animating things that don’t normally move so look to reality to give an object a certain personality or energy.
But not TOO Real.
Exaggerate reality, make things appear bigger or smaller than they actually would. Exaggerate movement in size and speed. Create a stylized background where objects are crooked or geometric.
Everything in the animation should be planned out by this point.
Character designs, acting, action, pacing, story dialogue, effects, camera moves and editing.
Why? Because animation is labour intensive and expensive so it is important to eliminate wasted footage before it is created.
Where is the center of the screen for viewers actually located?
Just above the actual center of the screen.
Viewers eye is automatically drawn here.
Make sure you BG isn’t too busy or it could take away from the action.
Use contrast to direct the eye
Structure the Viewer’s Attention
Whose viewpoint is the action seen from? How can this be shown?
Use extreme cuts only when it is necessary. Do not cut from a long shot to a close-up unless something really dramatic is taking place.
Avoid Intersecting lines
These lines can be distracting in a composition.
Something to remember
A character will read first if it is standing at screen left.
You cannot cross this line when shooting or the audience will be disoriented.
How to obey the 180 Rule
Characters must keep a left-right relationship.
180 degree rule video
What if there is more than one action in a scene/shot?
If there are several actions going on in one shot continue drawing those actions out on new panels.
Storyboard No No
Try not to have and repeat shots that are very similar and flat.
Having shots staged exclusively in profile can create confusing cuts.
This shot would look much better and accomplish exactly what we are looking for. The varying angles of the birds also create interest and give us the feeling of a 3D space.
How else can we create interest?
Use a ¾ view shot. It adds to the illusion of depth and gives dimension to a character.
The frontal view
Frontal views read better when the character is place slightly off center and turned slightly into a 3/4 view shot.
Each story is broken down into sequences.
Take the story of Little Red Riding Hood for example:
BEAT ONE : Little Red Riding Hood starts out for Grandma’s house.
BEAT TWO : She Meets the Wolf.
BEAT THREE : The Wolf goes to Grandma’s house and puts on Grandma’s clothes.
BEAT FOUR : Little Red Riding Hood meets the Wolf in the house.
Beat or Sequences
Break your story down into beats, if there are 4 beats in the story you can each draw storyboards for a single beat/sequence.
A beat can be considered as a new direction the story is taking.
If you are in a new location you are probably starting a new sequence.
Three Bears Sequence
Sherlock Holmes Sequence
Then what is a scene?
A scene is considered to be a shot. The moment the camera angle changes we are in a new scene.
Sooooooo….. Each of your sequences may contain several scenes.
Rule of Thirds
Something to be aware of is having the focal point of your shot about 1/3 of the way down from the screen. This mimics how you actually see scenes in real life. This is especially important when we are seeing a person face to face. The eyes of the person you are focused on should be at 1/3 down from the top of the screen. When filming a moving object, or something with direction to one side of the space, leave more room in front of the object than behind. Make more room where it is going. Here is a site with photos explaining the rule of thirds.
Use a tripod
(or other device to place your camera on) as much as possible. When you are holding the camera with your hand, find something steady to lean on. If you are sitting down, use your leg to steady the camera. Use a pole, the side of a building, a bench. Hands usually shake, look around you, you can usually find something solid to help you stay steady. You don’t have to get a big clunky tripod either. I had a small, 3 inch tripod. It was very handy and versatile. You set it up anywhere, and you have a lot of options for camera angles, not just limited to being flush with the surface.
Be aware of external sound .
Cars moving in the background, scenes in crowded places like bars or restaurants will drown out the audio you are trying to pick up – unless you have an external microphone. The sound may be half of the filming experience, it’s easy to forget about it, but sound is as necessary as the picture for producing your video.
Don’t count on fixing ‘it’ later .
It’s easy to say that you will do a voice over or use some editing technique to fix some mistake later. In reality, its much harder to fix it in editing (post) than to just film it over again. Shoot extra shots, do multiple takes; it’s better to spend a couple more minutes shooting than to get home and realize that you are short on the footage you need. Ayayay.
Tapes and Batteries
Make sure you have an extra battery, and extra tapes - just in case. When you are stuck, you will pay anything for some more juice or more tape.
Use zoom as little as possible .
The pictures quality may suffer, but more devastatingly, the camera footage will be much shakier.
Shoot with the light not against it. (Unless you want a silhouette)
You want your subjects to have bright faces, rather than the sun or another light source being directly behind them (unless you are going for that effect)
White Balance :
Many new cameras are relatively good with automatic white balance. Basically whenever you are filming in places with different lighting sources (sun, fluorescent lights, halogen lights, etc.), the camera will need to re-white balance whenever you switch locations. When the video looks blue and washed out, this is usually as a result of not white balancing. To white balance, focus on something completely white (a piece of paper, a t shirt, a wall) and press the button on your camera to white balance.