Disconnect

You're looking at a stack of storyboards on my desk here at home. Notice the simple setup. A script, sheets of paper and a few pencils. That's correct, kids. This is how storyboards were created before computers and Cintiq Tablets. The storyboard artist drew on sheets of paneled paper using only a few pencils and an eraser. There were never any technical problems because paper and pencils seldom broke down.

Before you jump to any conclusions, remember you're hearing this from a guy who loves technology. I've a houseful of computers, Cintiq Tablets, iPads and iPhones. I moved north to Pixar Animation Studios in the late nineties when nobody else from Disney cared to go. I brought my own Mac computer from home back in the eighties and even chatted with Steve Jobs on occasion. I'm not a guy who hates technology.

Having said that, It's nice to be reminded of how simple this business used to be before technology sent us spinning off in a whole new direction. In the old days you could launch a new studio without a zillion dollar investment. No complicated infrastructure was necessary. Find a warehouse and fill it with drawing tables and you were good to go. Your supplies consisted of paper, paint and pencils and your talented staff of artists created the magic that would eventually entrance audiences on the big screen. Our new digital tools have enabled animation film makers to do amazing things and visualize images never before possible. We can create vast new worlds on film and animators can give characters subtly and nuance. Free from the 2 dimensional limitation of hand drawn images, the camera can move in, out and around the set. In many ways, today's animation isn't all that different from live-action.

Moving to Pixar Animation Studios in the late nineties, I found that the storyboarding process hadn't changed one bit. Even though this was a high tech studio, the story process remained the same. Artists still drew on scraps of paper and pinned them to a board. In a way it added a human touch. There was something organic remaining in this new technological world of computers and servers. Then, animation bosses discovered the Cintiq Tablet and this became the future. Of course, I know the new tools are efficient. You don't have to tell me because I use one myself, and the tablet is impressive. Yet, I can't help but feel we've lost a little something by moving in this direction. While today's technological tools are amazing, I often have difficulty connecting with today's animated product. Maybe it's just me. But, even as our new tools help us, it would appear they continue to separate us as well.

 

IMG_0144.JPG