Animatics and Answers

In a continued effort to make what I do more understandable to prospective clients, I added an FAQ section to the site. People can also request more answers if they want to too.

I also updated the About section to now show what services Forma Pictures provides. Forma Pictures works with both companies and individuals. Big and small projects. :)

As for work, this week saw a bunch of storyboarding for the MatterHackers project! Boy, like I've said before, boarding really pushes my brain. It's tough work trying to do so many things at once, like staging, flow, and visually understandable compositions. The storyboard basically defines what the movie is going to be, so no pressure, right? :)

Here's a screenshot of the animatic I was working on, in the editor:


Animatic Clip

As promised, I'm sharing a clip of the animatic. The score isn't in yet, so it's rather quiet. The art is obviously non-existent and the animations are point-A to point-B type of stuff. Everything is stand-in for the real art that will come later. But hey, movies are always bad in the beginning. My goal here is to shed light on the gritty details of this process. See last week's update for a more in-depth analysis of what goes into making an animatic.

In this segment, Chloe encounters something unexpected, and she's appropriately cautious...


The Making of an Animatic

No art to show this week, so I’m showing a little behind the scenes. Personally, I love looking under the hood of a project, so I hope this is interesting to someone.

My main task right now is creating the animatic. During this process I’m addressing three important aspects that are shaping the movie:

  • Staging
  • Cinematography
  • Editing

The initial boards I made were loose and I focused on finding a visual language. After creating the third batch of thumbnail sketches, I spent a day placing them into a non-linear editor.

The third batch.

The third batch.

I feel that the staging process is like solving a puzzle. I look to the script and determine all the actions that need to happen to move the story along. The hard part is adapting the ideas into a space, where action happens. Working from an overhead perspective, I literally just scribble ideas for camera angles, player movement, and interactions throughout the scene. When I’m building it, I’m thinking about technical limitations (based on visual direction), composition, eye-tracing, and 2D screen-space rules.


The cinematography has been fun for me. I’ve been getting coverage of each scene, which has helped the editing process. And I’ve been working on shot composition, which is an art form unto itself. Naturally, I feel like a complete novice. Creating a still with coherent composition is hard enough, and then adding the element of time makes it all the harder. As Joseph Mascelli says in The Five C’s of Cinematography (which I highly recommended), “Good motion picture scenes are the result of thoughtful compositions and significant movements, of players and/or camera. Unsatisfactory scenes are the results of thoughtless compositions and meaningless player or camera movements, which distract rather than aid in the story-telling.”


Editing affects the shots too. Sometimes I don’t feel I can cut to a certain angle in the given time, which makes me reevaluate my camera choices. And because this is a music-driven story, everything needs to work harmoniously with the score. So, Hunted is really a series of music-supporting sequences that move the story and emotion along a pre-defined arc. And for even the simplest scenes to work, composition, staging, music, editing, and design must cooperate. That’s really the beauty of film. It’s the convergence of so many art forms…each one potentially elevating the art to higher and higher levels.

A very early timeline.

A very early timeline.

Hunted is a simple film, but I know it will continue to push me to my limits. This is why whenever I watch a particularly well made movie, I can’t help by sit in awe. Good movies are hard to make. I can’t say if my film will be good, but I’ll pour everything I’ve got into it.

I’ll post a clip of the animatic next week (November 7th)!


Animatic Underway

After creating hundreds of storyboard sketches this week, I began working on the animatic. I'm feeling good about the scenes, and the time has come to create a robust, moving storyboard. Here are some stills from a few of the scenes:

All very simple, but so important. I'm having fun getting coverage of the scenes, and then editing them together. Some shots have been drawn by hand over and over again, and it's good to finally see them in 3D space. I'm learning what works and what doesn't. Overall, this film challenges me in ways that make me very happy. I've continued to read about cinematography and editing as I try to get better at this stuff. I love film!


Painting Trees

This was a week of painting trees. And mountains. And more trees. And while I'm not "ready" to show people anything yet, I've got to show something! If I held off showing art until I was ready, I would just put it straight in the film because it would be done. The direction will change, grow, and be better.

A simple layout of a scene from Act I.

A simple layout of a scene from Act I.

When I wasn't taking care of other projects and the business, I was collecting reference, exploring approaches to painting, and teaching myself basic character animation. I also started creating block-outs of the gas station and the cliff. Mostly just playing with where the camera should be and begging for some happy accidents. That said, I'm planning on most things being 2D.

If you're an artist out there who would like to learn more about this animated film, message me: I'm looking for concept artists (character and environment) at the moment, but the project will eventually need 2D/3D animators and maybe a technical artist. I really believe in this project and I'm working hard to make it something genuinely good.

The composer is already creating the score, and now it's time to get some excellent artists on board!


New Storyboard

This was a week of visual development and storyboarding. I had boarded the film previously, but it needed a whole new set of images based on significant changes to the story. I also needed to give Isaac, the composer, something more concrete to work from.

I still need to stage this film, but I'm waiting until after the music gets a first pass. Isaac and I had a great first meeting this week, and I'm very excited to start getting music into this thing!

And as far as visual development goes, I began concepting a scene from the film. However, there's no way I'm ready to show any of that yet! But rest assured, I'll show look development progress in due time. For now, I'll leave you with a few simple boards from the updated story.


The Beginning

I’ve been working as an artist for many years. And through the years, my love for the craft has only grown stronger. These days I’m working on stories and motion graphics for trailers, short films, and more. I’m a visual guy with a love for music, so film is my favorite medium by a long shot.

This past summer I started Forma Pictures--a company I could call my own. I work as a freelancer, and I’m also slowly developing what will be Forma Picture’s first, original short film.

I was talking with a good friend and he suggested I post updates as I go. Sounded like a good idea to me, so here I am! It’s going to be a long project, but my hope is to shed light on the process with weekly updates.

Right now I’m developing the story. Here’s a peek at some of the first storyboard thumbnails:

Updates will come every Friday. I want to talk about the film and my weekly experiences as a filmmaker and entrepreneur. Each update will be short, and I’ll post pictures of work in progress stuff along the way.

I’ll tell you more about the story next week. The tone is somewhat dark...and sad!