A Look Back - Carolina Parakeet Storyboards / by AJ Briones

When I wrote Carolina Parakeet, one key image stood out in my mind and it was the first storyboard that I drew: a dead mother nursing her undead baby.  In that one frame, we took the most intimate life-giving act and turned it on its head.  It was a powerful image that set the tone for the short.

The storyboarding process has always been intimidating for me.  I had to let go of the fact that I'm not the greatest artist in the world, but I really needed to get these images on paper.  I couldn't get hung up on the fact that compared to some of my friends in the industry who are amazing artists, quite frankly, I'm shit.

I probably have the most inefficient method for storyboarding, so if there's one point I'd like for you to take from this post, it's probably this: do what works best for you. 

Overall, the process took a few months, drawing boards as I rewrote drafts of the script.

I drew with regular ball point pen on paper.  I tried numerous times to switch over to a Wacom tablet or iPad but I just never felt comfortable doing it.  For whatever reason, pencils don't work for me either.  Even then, it was a real struggle trying to get images out of my head and on to the page.

Here's where it got even sillier: after drawing a board element with pen on paper, I took a photo of if using my iPhone and emailed it to myself.  I know, crazy, right?  I would repeat the process for separate elements (background, midground, foreground) and composed and painted them in Photoshop.

I bought a little wooden artist model to help with posing, and frequently took pictures for references as well.

All told, I ended up boarding less than half of the short.  For the rest, we did test shoots as well as full cg previs (you can see a previs breakdown of a scene here).  I boarded before we had any locations nailed down, so these not only helped during the shoot, but also during the location scout.  We ended up having to make a lot of adjustments and deviate slightly from the boards as dictated by our locations, but they were an essential starting point.

Here are some random boards, taken out of context.

For my next short, I'm going to try doing everything digitally.  I also purchased male and female sixth scale artist models from Sideshow Collectibles, and hopefully they can be better posed than the traditional wooden artist models I've used in the past . Hope this helps.