No, I Wasn't Kidding and I'm Still Not

Since my wisdom has been said to be “endless” (By me), I thought I would play Storyboard Guru for a day by telling a true tale of animation history: mine.

I was at a function, a long while back, seated with a group of animation colleagues. At some point in the evening, a couple of them were telling me how they were either just starting to storyboard or were thinking about it and they asked me what I thought was a good TV series for them to study from to help learn storyboard. Without hesitation and with a deadpan delivery I said, “Pokemon”.

pokemon 101

They both smiled and started to laugh all while waiting for me to join them in the joke, me being the funster I usually am, and then tell them something more serious. I held my ground until their smiles and laughter morphed to utter bewilderment. Once they had been reduced to blank stares with crickets chirping in the background, I elaborated, “I’m not kidding.” I like to laugh as much as the next guy, but when it comes to work, I’m usually pretty serious about it. In my opinion, at that time, there wasn’t a TV series airing in Canada that could hold a candle to Pokemon, at least as far as storyboarding was concerned.

DP157

I explained to my audience that Pokemon storyboards consistently told the stories well in an entertaining manner with constantly interesting and inventive shots that, at the same time, were not overly difficult to pull off for the animators and thus didn’t cost the studio a lot of money (Money is a fact of life in TV animation). In other words, they were expertly storyboarded to get the most bang for the limited budget’s buck. As a result, Pokemon maintained a consistent quality standard and looked more expensive that it really was. It did a lot of fun tricks to save money and yet be interesting. When it did action, it was exciting. When it did drama, it was dramatic. When it did comedy, it was funny. What more could anyone want? At the time, Pokemon had just made the cover of Time Magazine, or was just about to, and it wasn’t because no one liked it: it was a massive hit and it was popular because it was a solid show that told good stories well and you can’t tell a good story well, in animation, without a good storyboard. Even a weak episode of Pokemon was solidly storyboarded and worth study. The best episodes were inspiring.

Pokemon-Black-and-Whites-Sewaddle-and-Burgh-in-Pinwheel-Forest-on-Cartoon-Network-220x120
None of the above pictures are an example of anything particular. Just adding some colour to my nonsense. Although, this shot of Pikachu is simple and effective. Having the overlay of out of focus (or maybe it’s in focus. Hard to tell in this pic) grass adds a lot of zip to the shot and is simple enough to do.

I am reminded of this because I just saw a new episode on TV, yesterday, and the standard after almost 20 years of the series is still very high. I still recommend it as a study show for anyone who wants to learn TV storyboarding for animation. Even if the show one is working on is a Flash or 3D animation series, there is still a lot one can learn and use in any animation medium.

My wisdom is endless.

-Steve
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