Wednesday, 8 February 2017

From Script to Screen: Online Greenlight Review - 08/02/17


  1. OGR 09/02/2017

    Hey Polly,

    You've come a long way in a short time and you've got the bones of something decent here. I just have a few observations to make in regards to visual storytelling, some 'gaps' and some further design nitpicks:

    In terms of exposition for the audience, while I really like the fact your story starts with the spectacle of the brain machine etc. I think you need to insert an additional scene that show us - perhaps in silhouette against a wall - how the brain surgeon *is* a brain surgeon - so we need to see him taking a brain out of one of his captive's heads - and then placing it on the machine - so we need to be 'told' what's going on and what the man is actually doing. This information isn't available otherwise.

    In terms of the joke shop and the masks... it seems to me that it's just a touch too convenient that the boy whose story we're following should just 'discover' that one of the bars of the cage is weak. It would be much better in plotting terms, if there's some causality between the boy, the jokeshop and his ability to lead the escape. Put more simply, is there something the boy can have with him from the joke shop that facilitates his escape? So, for example, if he comes in interested in buying a catapult or maybe a set of wind-up clockwork teeth, which, because he has them in his hand when he falls, he's got the means of his escape (for example, he gets the wind-up teeth to gnaw through one of the bars, or the rope holding the cage together). It makes more sense to me that it's the brain surgeon who says, 'Why not try one of fake moustaches? Here, take a look at yourself in the mirror...' and then he flicks the switch. There's something - for me - not entirely credible about a boy coming in to buy a wooden mask to scare his friends - it's not very 'joke shop' or 'boys will be boys' to entire convince.

    There's a big gap between what you describe in your script - and what you're showing in your storyboard. For example, you've got the 'boy uses his showlaces to break the machine' - but we see none of this. As a general observation I'd say that you're really storyboarding any of the key action scenes - and you're not using enough panels to show how intercutting between types of shot could rack up the tension. For example, the demise of the brain surgeon goes from a shot of him holding his hat - to a pile of dust. This is a big moment in your story and I don't think you're doing it justice. I want you to commit to all the action scenes much more so - so the boys' escape for example - and really DIRECT the action. Think about Hitchcock and the way he builds relationships between characters and what they're looking at/thinking about/worrying about. Your storyboard actually gets less and less dynamic and representative as it nears the end, and I suspect this is you putting 'getting something finished' over 'getting something right', so it's time to go back and think like a director, not like a student who has a storyboard to complete for an OGR. Think about the films we've watched together - think about all our discussions about the power of camera placement and the connection between two different shots etc. - and I want to see you applying that knowledge and understanding more obviously here.

  2. In design terms, I think you need to look again at some of your reference imagery - the 'top hat' for example, doesn't read as a top hat, more like a fez, and you need to ensure your brain surgeon looks every bit the part of the aristocratic psychopath. Your boy character is currently very generic; at the moment, you're still creating 'illustrations' of characters, as opposed to producing 'character designs' and in part this is because you're thinking and drawing in a 2D way, as opposed to in a structural/3D forms based way. If you visit myUCA/Story/Character Design Resources, you'll find a number of straight forward 'how-to' techniques for working up characters for animation. I don't want you illustrating your story, I want you designing its characters (with a view to their conversion into a 3D model) so it's time to change up your method again

    Really pleased to see the silhouette method giving some nice results - for me, it's the 7th silhouette (3rd from left on second sheet) that's really looking the part. In terms of your various interiors, it's obvious that you've stopped looking at visual reference - rooms without skirting boards, rooms without actual architectural details or period details etc. I like the stylisation, but I'd like it even more if it was recognisably Victorian...

    In terms of your overall style choice ideas - you might also find this animation to be useful in terms of further fixing your art direction when it comes to applying it to your sets, characters and props:

    You've achieved a lot, Polly - but there's much more to do in terms of direction, visual storytelling and design. These should be your priorities how. Look again at your storyboard and commit to the detail of what you're showing us. Remember too that you're making a thriller/horror story really, so in terms of expressionistic lighting, skewed camera angles etc, sound and music, you've got lots of artistic potential here to exploit more fully.

    (Finally, I do think you could tell this story without any actual dialogue too - it could all be done with relationships between faces, expressions and different shots).