Category Archives: Storytelling

"Let’s Draw Endangered Species" Pinterespiration

Lets Draw Endangered Species, pre-previz by the best artists in animation collected to inspire your own stories and character designs. If working with animal-based characters consider using your talents to make endangered species known and lovable.  
This Pinterest Gallery compliments an otherwise long-term project: 

Exceptional Storyboarding Tutorial by Louie del Carmen (and ‘Incremental Save’ Script for Photoshop and Bridge Workflow)

(previz from Louie del Carmen’s tutorial)
 

Digital artists are generous: community forums for sharing tips in our evolving medium have become small industries. Whether for Flash, Photoshop, or Maya — or whatever the next program will be — all of us are ultimately self-taught; each of us has our own techniques and workflows — those who share, nurture our community and profit from feedback in turn.

Story Artists are generous but with such a complex workflow it can be difficult to ask the right questions. Boards included in “Art of” books accompanying the release of films often only highlight polished “Hallmark” shots; novice storyboards are notoriously overwrought. (For an informative discussion on production vs polished boards watch this video.)

Louie del Carmen’s comprehensive storyboarding tutorial changes the discussion. From script to sequence viewers are lead through production quality boarding in a straightforward, accessible manner. If you have been scouring the internet for tips this tutorial is a treasure.

Louie’s tutorial will pay for itself within minutes if you are not yet using Adobe Bridge. $25 is a gift…wish more Story Artists were as generous as: http://www.cgmwonline.com/Louie-Del-Carmen.html

__________

Here’s a Photoshop script which works well with a Bridge workflow. The cool thing is it makes accidentally over-writing sequential files difficult: as you continue working from a single authoring file activating this script saves filenames in increments of 10. (At the very least it will speed up your workflow by eliminating the need to hand edit filenames.)

Paste the code below into a new file in ExtendScript Toolkit (part of Photoshop’s installation found here: Applications/Utilities/Adobe Utilities/ExtendScript Toolkit CS4 or /Applications/Utilities/Adobe Utilities-CS5/ExtendScript Toolkit CS5), save it as a jsx-file into Photoshop’s Presets/Scripts-folder.

After restarting Photoshop the Script should be available under File > Scripts and can be assigned a Keyboard Shortcut, recorded into an Action, used in a Configurator-Panel, or started from the ExtendScript Toolkit itself.

Default installations of Photoshop leave the Keyboard Shortcut ctrl+command+shit+S unassigned. By assigning this or another shortcut key you can then map a button on your Cintique to activate the script.

// saves psd copies in rising four digit numbers appended to the authoring file’s name;
#target photoshop
if (app.documents.length > 0) {
// get properties;
var thedoc = app.activeDocument;
var docName = thedoc.name;
var basename = docName.match(/(.*)\.[^\.]+$/)[1];
var docPath = thedoc.path;
// psd options;
psdOpts = new PhotoshopSaveOptions();
psdOpts.embedColorProfile = true;
psdOpts.alphaChannels = false;
// change this to true if you want all the layers in the copy;
psdOpts.layers = true;     
psdOpts.spotColors = true;
// get neighboring  psdf iles;
var theFiles = retrievePSDFiles (Folder (docPath));
// collect numbers;
var theNumbers = new Array;
for (var m = 0; m < theFiles.length; m++) {
     if (theFiles[m].name.match(basename+”_”+”[0-9]{1,4}”+”.psd”)) {
          var thisNumber = Number(theFiles[m].name.slice(0, theFiles[m].name.length – 4).match(/\d{1,4}$/));
          theNumbers.push(thisNumber);
          }
     };
// get largest number;
if (theNumbers.length > 0) {
     var number = Number(theLargestNumber(theNumbers));
     var theNumber = bufferNumberWithZeros(number + 10, 4)
     }
else {
     var theNumber = “0010”
     };
// save copy;
thedoc.saveAs((new File(docPath+’/’+basename+”_”+theNumber+”.psd”)),psdOpts,true);
};
////////////////////////////////////
////////////////////////////////////
////////////////////////////////////
////// buffer number with zeros //////
function bufferNumberWithZeros (number, places) {
     var theNumberString = String(number);
     for (var o = 0; o < (places – String(number).length); o++) {
          theNumberString = String(“0” + theNumberString)
          };
     return theNumberString
     };
////// get from subfolders //////
function retrievePSDFiles (theFolder, theFiles) {
     if (!theFiles) {var theFiles = []};
     var theContent = theFolder.getFiles();
     for (var n = 0; n < theContent.length; n++) {
          var theObject = theContent[n];
          if (theObject.constructor.name == “Folder”) {
               theFiles = retrievePSDFiles(theObject, theFiles)
               };
          if (theObject.name.slice(-4) == “.psd”) {
               theFiles = theFiles.concat(theObject)
               }
          };
     return theFiles
     };
////// function to get the biggest number;
function theLargestNumber (numbersArray) {
     var x = new Array;
     x = x.concat(numbersArray);
     while (x.length > 1) {
          if (x[0] >= x[x.length-1]) {
               var a = x.pop()
               }
          else {
               var a = x.shift()
               }
          }
     return x
     };

Feedback welcome: EricMachmer@FactualFiction.com Twitter: @oceanbluesky

Ted Mathot, Scott Morse, Bill Presing and Derek Thompson at CTN

(sketch by Rembrandt)
 
Derek Thompson: The willingness of a story artist to dispose of their work, of their thinking, is almost equally important as their ability to draw, really, really well. […] That’s where process comes into play. Most artists that I know enjoy looking at rough, unfinished work. For any of you who think we’re doing inked finished typed boards — that’s not what it is. It’s dirty, it’s roll up your sleeves — it’s wet works in the plumbing, it’s really gritty, type of work. “Get in late, get out early.”
 
Ted Mathot: I generally do all my posing last, so, I’ll go in and I’ll try to nail down each shot. And get my progression of shots going first. So I’ll have one drawing for each shot — then I’ll go back in and start plussing. 
 
Bill Pressing: I try to do a minimum of three boards for a shot. Cause a lot of times you can do whatever you’re thinking of doing in three. [Thompson: “A beginning, middle, end — an A, B, C — where you’re in, in the shot, what the middle substance is, then how you exit the shot.]
 
Scott Morse: It’s neat to see how the rule of three works. I’m kind of a nerd about patterns these days, fractal geometry — I love finding patterns in things. Obviously in film there’s a three act structure — because it works, not because it is a “rule” that we stick to because, you know….” “Be prepared to do it, then have it thrown out.” A lot of people ask, “What kind of style do you look for?” — and it’s like, “ok, that’s a big red flag that you just threw it in my face,” ’cause a style isn’t gonna come across in storyboarding. Your drawing style needs to be — not a style. It needs to be a thinking style. You need to be able to work, play, well with others.  [Mathot: You need to be adaptable in that you can draw like other artists around you. But you also have to be able to adapt to the other directors, because they all have styles too, and you need to be able to work with that.] 

Welcome Splash Image with Short Poem for Facebook’s Hafez Page

(click for enlarged version)

An English language Facebook Page with more poetry may be viewed here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hafez-Persian-khwajh-shmsaldyn-mhmd-hafz-shyrazy/137434399601884?v=app_4949752878

(Facebook has a ‘Hefez’ Wikipedia Community page and dozens in Persian for him…but the only English language page uses ‘Hafiz’…and features none of his poetry…so….)

Seven Rules of Creative Production by Lasseter (from an interview with the German newsmagazine Sueddeutsche Zeitung)

 
The best ideas come as jokes. 
Make your thinking as funny as possible. 
David Ogilvy
 

1. Never come up with just one idea. “Regardless of whether you want to write a book, design a piece of furniture or make an animated movie: At the beginning, don’t start with just one idea – it should be three. “The reason is simple. If a producer comes to me with a proposal for a new project, then usually he has mulled over this particular idea for a very long time. That limits him. My answer always reads: ‘Come again when you have three ideas, and I don’t mean one good and two bad. I want three really good ideas, of which you cannot decide the best. You must be able to defend all three before me. Then we’ll decide which one you’ll realise. “The problem with creative people is that they often focus their whole attention on one idea. So, right at the beginning of a project, you unnecessarily limit your options. Every creative person should try that out. You will be surprised how this requirement suddenly forces you to think about things you hadn’t even considered before. Through this detachment, you suddenly gain new perspectives. And believe me, there are always three good ideas. At least.”

2. Remember the first laugh. “A big problem in the creative process is related to the enhancement of your ideas,” cautions Mr Lasseter. “Revising, retouching, refining is very important, but it carries a danger. “If you have a story, a joke, a thought, which you write down, it loses its effect over time. It wears itself out. When you hear a joke for the second time you still laugh heartily, on the third or fourth occasion already less so, and when you hear it the hundredth time, you hate it. I say to my authors: ‘Take notice of the first laugh, write it down if necessary. This may at times be bothersome, but it is important. Many times, good things got lost because people could not remember anymore how it felt when they heard the idea for the first time.”

3. Quality is a great business plan. Period. “There is a crucial rule: no compromises. No compromises on quality – regardless of production constraints, cost constraints, or a deadline. If you get a better idea, and this means that you have to start again from scratch, then that’s what you have to do. “In any creative industry, quality is the sole business plan that prevails in the long run. Many managers fail to understand that, but the spectators understand it. The process is only finished once the creative professional in charge says it’s finished. That does not mean that there isn’t to be any pressure – there’s pressure all the time anyway – but the individual creator always needs to have the last word.”

4. It’s the team, stupid. “One of the most popular questions is always whether groups are more creative than individuals. My answer: In most cases, it’s the team – provided you follow certain rules”, says Mr Lasseter. “As a manager, it is my task to abolish hierarchies. It doesn’t matter at all who has the idea; that’s a very important rule for us. The group must be honest, direct, and endeavour to sincerely help the creative individual. But in the end, nothing that the group says is binding”.

5. Fun invokes creativity, not competition. “There is this idea that you put two people, who cannot stand each other, into a room, hoping that all this negative energy leads to a creative result. I disagree. Co-operation, confidence and fun – that is the way”, says Mr Lasseter. He emphasises the complex managerial challenge to successfully motivate creative employees, and to create a climate conducive for creativity. “Creative people must believe that all others support them in making a great movie. They need to believe that all people involved understand what they talk about. Creative people are easily bored, moody, a bit difficult to handle. You have to make it fun for them, care for them. Creative people only produce really good work if you creatively challenge them. They have to like what they’re working on. They have to be damn proud of the fact that they’re a part of a particular project. That is again the task of the manager. Each time, you have to give them creative challenges. That’s difficult, but nobody said it is easy to lead creative people.”

6. Creative output always reflects the person on top. “Poor managers harm the creative process,” as John Lasseter knows from personal experience. After landing his dream job as animator at the Disney Animation Studios in the late seventies, his outspoken individuality and creative extravaganzas quickly made him enemies among mediocre middle managers at Disney. Within a few years, Mr Lasseter became a victim of internal politics and got fired. Committed to go his own way, Mr Lasseter became one of the founders of Pixar in 1986. Twenty years later, following Pixar’s acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, Mr Lasseter returned in triumph as chief creative officer of both animation studios.

“Laughter, being crazy, freaking out, behaving in ridiculous manner are hard work. A manager who spreads his bad mood and who forbids his employees to have fun impairs their creativity, and thus harms the enterprise. I would fire him. Animated movies are not least a bang-hard business. I cannot risk so much money, only because a manager indulging in his bad mood harms my business.”

7. Surround yourself with creative people whom you trust. Being an accomplished creative leader, John Lasseter gives some direct advice to junior creative leaders in progress. “Bring only those new members into your creative team, whom you consider to be at least as talented as you. If they also have a pleasant and nice character – even better. Most managers don’t follow this approach, as they are insecure. Insecurity and creativity do not get along with each other well. Most managers surround themselves with yes-men, and in result, the audiences get bad films to see,” explains Mr Lasseter.

“When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” Buckminster Fuller

Role Model for Superheroes: Ares (Ἄρης) Leader of Righteous Men

 
Why did Aphrodite love Ares?
 

Why are these two gods the only passionate lasting truly romantic lovers in all of Greek and Roman mythology?

Why was Ares the true love of the Goddess of Love? Bloodthirsty Ares, Ares the destroyer, despised Ares, Ares god of war. Ares hated by Olympians, distrusted by all except Aphrodite. Why? Good Male Passion.

He was not considered the strongest god — even Aphrodite’s legal husband Hephaestus, patron of blacksmiths, might have been stronger.  Most gods were physically fit: Apollo beat Ares at Olympic boxing; the physically strongest was Hercules. Ares is never portrayed as a hulking giant.

Rape is a constant theme in mythology. Isn’t it strange there is not a single attribution of non-consensual sex to him. That is important. It is exceptionally unusual. Character defining.

The friends of Ares with whom he walks through Thracian woods deep in thought are Themis, the personification of Divine Law, and Dike, the personification of Justice and Fair Judgement.

There are other names for this misunderstood archetype — portraits now forgotten in popular culture: Leader of Righteous Men, Defender of Cities, Father of Victory, Ally of Divine Law, Friend of Justice. Bold Ares. Courageous Ares. Loyal, Trustworthy Righteous Indignation Incarnate.

Prayers to Ares ask for help avoiding the folly of personal hubris and blind arrogance, weaknesses attributed to this archetype. Ares was expected to marry Aphrodite.  In mythology Zeus offered her to anyone able to open her cage. Ares’ over-confident raw passion failed, rendering Aphrodite and Ares heart-broken; the cunning inventions of Hephaestus, blacksmith to the gods, won her legal marriage.

These personifications of Male and Female passion nevertheless had six children: Harmonia, Eros, Phobos, Demos (Dread), Adrestia (Revenge), and Anteros (Requited Love). They continued their love despite her husband.

I am fascinated by this undomesticated hero, this bane of tyrants, leader of rebels, maker of civil unrest. I am also disgusted this personality-type which once served as an ancient noble role-model has been blasphemed as bloodthirsty, impetuous, and unkind.

Ares personifies the difference between a Good Man and a sycophantic Nice Guy. The former stands up for brutal virtues, leading to depth of character, responsibility, and passion-filled life purpose; the later submits to whims, purposes of others — everything: his soul, his heart, his goals, his love…always approachable, endlessly patient, a polite woman with ED. (It’s interesting the sister of Ares, Athena, goddess of wealth, wisdom, strategic warfare — is a virgin.)

Today why are two-thirds of divorces initiated by women?? Why are Iron John and No More Christian Mr. Nice Guy (a book written by a Christian minister, forwarded by a Jewish woman) — bestsellers??

Aphrodite loved Ares. His person, spirit, sense of self.  In Strong Hearted Ares she met a man with a beautiful mission unswayed. Ares could speak to the most irresistible goddess as a person. He could care for her interests apart from his physical desire. Ares’ strength was to see her beauty while retaining his. Upon Aphrodite other gods fawned, lost composure, flattered and grasped. They became meek and mild: pristine, clean, smooth, soft, unscarred, flatterers — dishonest hypocrites. Pleasant. Unconfrontational.

In Ares, Aphrodite found the archetypical male, a man pursuing his own righteous interests. She found a friend who would place her “inside the shield,” someone who would stand up for and protect her, but also tell her the truth, encourage her potential, and withstand shallow pleas and supplications. Aphrodite found a friend. Ares Gravitas. A companion. Theirs was true love.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ares
http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Ares.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_(mythology)
Friends of Ares: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Themis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dike_(mythology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphrodite
Children with Aphrodite:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrestia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonia_(mythology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deimos_(mythology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phobos_(mythology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anteros
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eros

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtqy4DTHGqg

Loeb Classical Library: Free Out-of-Copyright Downloads Online

The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books by Ancient Greek and Roman authors designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience, presenting the original Greek or Latin on each left-hand leaf and a fairly literal translation on the facing page. As their early translations pass out of copyright many are available online for free, here: http://www.edonnelly.com/loebs.html
 
 
The Clay Sanskrit Library and I Tatti Renaissance Library both have facing page  translations.

Using Google Earth to Complement and Organize Stories

For whomever may be interested in using Google Earth to enhance narratives, check out:
Fantastic YouTube GE channel with quick useful tutorials:
GE support group with timeslider tools, models, etc:
.kmz file from the above bulletin board with places mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays:
 http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=155428&site_id=1#import


GoogleLitTrips links page:
Cool screenshots of “Grapes of Wrath” from LitTrips:
Record a fly-through tour of a character’s travels for sharing on a blog:
“The Sightseer” – Google Earth’s Monthly Newsletter:
Overview of GE capabilities (cool sunlight animation):
 http://www.juicygeography.co.uk/googlecoursework.html
Thanks to Ted Mathot for inspiration.  Check out how Ted has used Google Maps to follow his character Cora’s journey through the American West.