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Principles of Process

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MAX Workshop: Storyboards

In this workshop you'll use the storyboard template found in Appendix A of this book to create your own storyboard for TheEnd.avi. This is going to be a bit of a cheat because the imagery is already created, but do it anyway and have some fun. If you need some help, refer to Figure 3.5, which will show you a sample storyboard. You'll also need some pencils, markers, scissors, glue, and access to a copier to complete this workshop.

Figure 3.5 Use this storyboard template to guide you through this workshop.

The descriptive steps you want an animator to follow must include atmosphere and lighting notes, animation path arrows, special effects and sound effects direction, animation notes, voice over narration, and storyline.

Even though the shot you'll create in this workshop doesn't have sound yet, the storyboard is an appropriate place to begin specifying the basic possibilities--water, wind, theme music, and so on.

Follow these steps to complete a four-page storyboard for this shot:

  1. Make a copy of the storyboard template, and with MAX open use View File to play TheEnd.avi.

  2. While the Avi is playing, sketch in the basics of the scene on the template you copied. Draw the buildings, the fireflies, and so on. A rough sketch is fine. Draw the bug in the foreground in the location above the pylon where it starts its animation. You'll draw its path later.

  3. Pay particular attention to the relative light and dark spaces of the composition, and try to duplicate them.

  4. When you have finished, make four photocopies of your sketch. The bug in the foreground is the only element that changes drastically in this scene, so you can use the basic drawing you've created and add the bug element as you go.

  5. Using the Boxes at the top of the page title your pages as follows: Act 3 - Seq-20, SC- 45, SHOT 101- The End. Add the appropriate page number in the box provided.

  6. Using the blank lines below the image box on the four pages, write a short story that might seem to fit the imagery of the shot. Something like "and so Marco the Firefly, who once lived his life without light and love, learned the true secret of the light he had carried inside his heart for all these years!"

  7. After the story is written, take one page at a time and describe one of the effects needed for the shot. Be very descriptive and specific. Use the boxes provided to write your instruction to the artist. For visual effects such as the fire or fog, use the VisualFX box. For the sound design, use the SoundFX box. For the action and animation of the scene, use the Action box. Because these effects are consistent throughout the shot, you can use all four pages to make the notes needed.

  8. Take a blank piece of paper and draw three bugs: the bug as it appears halfway through its flight to the screen; the bug when it is hovering and winking in the foreground of the shot; and the bug we see just as it flies off the screen. Use the playback controls of the media player to scrub through the .avi file to see those still frames.

  9. When you are finished, cut these bugs out. Paste the midflight bug on page two, which should look something like Figure 3.6.

  10. Figure 3.6 Storyboard page two begins to show the bug's path of action.

  11. Paste the winking bug on page three and write "bug winks" in the special animation instruction box.

  12. On page four, paste the bug flying off the screen. This completes the storyboard for this shot.

Figure 3.7 shows a review chart of the production steps discussed in this lesson. Take some time to review the list--it's the generic production process you will follow as a CGI artist. Of course, there will be variations and major differences in technique and tool application based on the unique requirements of every production studio. However, the basic principles of previsualization, story and storyboard development, production structure, shot elements, and layering will always apply.

Figure 3.7 Storyboard page four completes the bug's path of action.

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