Storyboarding experiences by Greg Miller #1

Storyboarding experiences by Greg Miller #1

Storyboarding experiences by Greg Miller #1
My name is Greg Miller and I’m currently a director at DreamWorks TV Animation. I’ve been working in the industry for 20 years now, and have worked in almost every job a person can have in the cartoon process.


However, due to my love of writing AND drawing I gravitated to primarily doing storyboards for the bulk of my animation career. Luckily, I started working in cartoons in the 90’s, when the concept of artists as writers started to make a resurgence. It is in this type of cartoon production that storyboarding is KING! The storyboard becomes the foundation for the entire cartoon: the jokes, the story, even character designs all start with the storyboard. The initial idea for the story may start in a writer’s room (which also usually contains the story artist as well), but it is through the storyboard that the cartoon blueprint is drawn. Also, since most writers have trouble thinking of visual gags, it is through the storyboard that physical comedy as well as written comedy comes to fruition. I have always been a fan of the old Warner Brothers cartoons which (in my opinion) were a perfect mix of sight AND written gags. That type of cartoon always seemed to use the medium perfectly by allowing characters to do and say anything they wanted; not being based in reality, yet still developing as fully fleshed-out personalities. Because of this, my style of storyboarding tends to be more on the writing side as opposed to purely being concerned with staging and layout… which is great for me since I tend to be more of a goofball than a fine draftsman.
With this style of storyboarding the artist is usually just given a rough outline of the story at the beginning of the process and not a script. This requires the artist to write dialogue as they draw the board. It definitely takes special skill having to write jokes, tell a story AND stage it properly, but usually, (I find, at least) if you can ‘watch’ the cartoon in your head as your drawing it, you can figure all the elements out as you go. Doing this style of storyboarding does require the ‘board artist to be a strong actor as well. To be able to ‘sell’ jokes, an artist needs to be able to convey subtle acting and expression as well as stage it appropriately. Granted, you can get away with much simpler staging and posing as opposed to dramatic cinematic shots and life drawing… unless the joke requires a sweeping camera move or a super wrinkly facial expression (ha).


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