Monday, August 17, 2009

Reverse Storyboarding

I recently watched the DVDs of HBO's Rome on my laptop. I stopped the action every once in a while to make super-quick storyboards of the screen compositions.


It was a fun and painless way to think about shot composition and lighting. The technique is fountain pen, watercolor pencils, and brushpens.

(Thanks for the recommendation, Mike M.)

14 comments:

Laraine Armenti said...

really cool idea -- thanks for sharing it.

Mike Manley said...

That's the assignment I give my storyboarding class early on in the semester and a great way to study how film is structured from shot flow/eye path to composition, rythm, etc.

By the way I really enjoy your blog.

Mike M

Erik Bongers said...

I sometimes make screenshots of videos on the web.
Typically a boring scene of a journalist in front of some background, but with a very beautiful lighting.

I keep these as colorkeys and I have already used them to create certain moods.

Jon Hrubesch said...

I think that widescreen monitors have put an end to it but this is the argument I would always have about not watching a movie in letter-box mode. The composition is destroyed. All the hard work that was put in to each and every shot is ruined by cropping the sides.

Andrew Wales said...

You know, I kind of do this in my head while I'm watching anything. I've always thought I ought to do exactly what you've described but never have. Now, I've gotta!

I always thought it'd be great to learn to make comics, the way the vantage points are always changing in film.

Oscar Baechler said...

I've done this from the impetus of an amazing movie shot that really struck me. In other words, casually watching a movie, but a shot hits me enough that I pause and get my sketchbook.

Three times I can remember it: the ending tunnel silhouette in "The Third Man," falling rubble jarringly breaking up a scene (by splicing the foreground and midground) in of all things "Duck Soup," and noticing a borrowed composition from "La Dolce Vida" (namely, a long shot where multiple people were running and the camera followed them) showing up in "Little Miss Sunshine."

Crazy how that kind of thing can stick with you.

Munchanka said...

I did this with the Jet Li film Hero, literally drawing every shot in the film. It took all summer! In the future, I'll just focus on a single sequence and truly study it.

Joe Sutphin said...

very inspiring Jim!
makes me want to get drawing!

Erik Bongers said...

You know...if James Gurney watches "Rome" on his laptop (how comfortable is that ?) and even pauses the darn thing every odd minute...
Then there was this trip around North Africa...

Astronomers call big galactical dust clouds or nebulae, "star nurceries". I guess artists also have their 'nurceries' for ideas.

I wonder what all these Nebulae in James Gurney's head will lead to.

Eric Orchard said...

What a great exorcise! Did you perceive anything unexpected about the way the shots are composed?

Jean Spitzer said...

This is something I've thought about but haven't tried. Next time, I'll break out the sketchpad.

badbot said...

a very good exercise and an exeptionaly great serie! i liked it so much! a great work on clothes, costumes, architecture recontitution... astonishing!

Smarry said...

It is really very cool idea thanks for posting..........

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Stephen James. said...

Good practice.