Storyboarding Billy

I wanted to write a short post about the storyboarding process for Billy Whiskers. I did almost all of the scriptwriting and storyboarding before production started properly on the project. This meant it was done in evenings and weekends. I can’t exactly remember how long it took, but must have been close to a year.

I began by creating small thumbnail boards. This helped to flesh out a lot of the story as well as beginning the process of figuring out how the film would look. It probably contributed more to the storytelling than the script itself as it really helps to visualise how everything is going to (hopefully) fit together. I did this in a small notepad and made a little template that can be seen in the pic below that allowed me to quickly draw 4 frames to sketch in. The strange concertina thing going on in the picture  on the right is because I ran out of pages in my sketchbook so had to improvise.


After a few changes and scribbled notes I moved on to creating the full storyboard. I wanted this to be quite a thorough representation of the film and something that could be edited together to directly create an animatic. I did these frames in photoshop using a graphics tablet. Not the most fun thing, but good drawing practice i guess!

I tired to create a better emphasis of how the lighting and shadows would look as well as how Billy himself needed to move and react. In total  I drew 301 separate frames for the 8 and a half minutes of animation. Below is a sample of some of these, the drawings aren’t fantastic but they conveyed enough to be able to get a sense of how the animation would come together.

I also decided to print off the whole storyboard and stick it to the studio wall. It was useful to see it as a whole and run through the animation, and it did lead to a few key changes to the animatic. It maybe wasn’t the greatest idea though. It got too cold in the studio for the masking tape and the whole thing fell off the wall. I then stapled it on, but these just proved a massive pain to remove.

At some point we will put together some short videos to show how the film progressed from thumbnails through to final animation. Looking back at them now i’m surprised how on track things have stayed. I guess there’s something in this planning lark!

James is the writer/director of Billy Whiskers, scribbling haphazardly on this website to document and share the experiences of making a stop motion animation.


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