Questions, answering some questions -

Ways to practice pitching, animation programs, stagnation and sound.

I just realized I don’t give a shit about working in finance even though I just finished my degree. My real passion is creating really cool worlds (since I was 10) and characters and playin out situations in my head and as of late I’ve started actually writing this stuff down. Any tips for how I could become a Story Artist like you did at Pixar?

Drawing is a huge part of being a story artist, so get cracking on that. Just start doing it, really! If drawing isn’t your thing, write short stories - and finish them. Finishing them is really important, so you can think about what you learned from the experience, and what you’ll do differently next time, and start working on the next thing. If drawing IS your thing, write super short stories and start storyboarding them out.

Do you know if there’s any specific animation software that’s ideal for a Cintiq tablet? I already have an animation program for Mac but it isn’t very good because the rigs come out very stiff and robotic. So I want to go with the hand-drawn approach (of course this is hand-drawn into a computer) for my short film. Any ideas/recommendations? Cause I don’t want to invest all this money into the cintiq and get a mediocre animation program

As far as I know, Toon Boom is pretty good, and they have demos you can download to try out their programs. Check them out!

Hi, Emma! Lately I have been feeling that my story skills have been stagnating. I feel like I have run up against a wall—I know I need to improve on a bunch of things, mostly in story structure, clarity, and pitching, but I don’t know how best to go about it. My usual solution would be to just draw, draw, draw, but presently I am not sure that is the best way to go about addressing my specific story problems.Halp prease?

That’s a tough question… you’re right, drawing won’t help your story structure or your pitch skills. You can really only get better at those by doing - and it’s pretty brutal to do those when you’re struggling with them.

A way to practice & get better at pitching is to take a video of yourself pitching one of your ideas. This is mortifying, but you have to get over that part of it. Then take a video of you relating the plot of a movie you have seen, or a short story you read, or a TV episode you watched. The second video will be a good pitch, I can almost guarantee - this is because you know it exists, you had a response to it, and you are now sharing that response with someone. Watch both, and notice the differences between how you talk about YOUR idea and how you talk about this pre-existing idea.

The best pitch is when you come off like you’re telling someone about the amazing movie you watched the other night, or walking them through a scene you thought was the best thing ever.

Clarity you need outside eyes for. When you get feedback from people, ask them specifically where they bumped or got lost and had to reread your story/ask you to repeat yourself. Do it enough and you will figure out what people are confused over, and you can address it.

Story structure: Get away from the stories you’re attached to. Think about characters who might be interesting, and what they might want. Think about, do they get it? What might get in the way of them getting what they want? What bad things happen to them? What hard choices do they have to make? A structure will usually present itself. It just takes practice to get quick at it.

Loooving your Q&As!! Thank u! Btw, am curious, how sound fits your workflow (scoring and soundfx) and your story development?

When you board for TV, you often have a ‘radio play’ to draw to, so you’ve already got certain music cues and dialogue delivery to listen to. When boarding for features, that’s rarely the case… in my experience, the board artist doesn’t often use sound in their workflow. Editorial gets the boards from the story artist and cuts them to dialogue & sound effects, as well as temp music pulled from soundtracks.

In terms of filmmaking, I’ve learned over my past few projects that it’s never too early to be thinking about the sound of a film. Sound is such a powerful storytelling tool, but easy to forget about during early stages… and production… and part of post… but when you forget about it and have to scramble at the last minute, it definitely sounds rushed and not of a piece with the rest of the film.

After learning that lesson on my short film Horizon, I started to write with sound in mind. Music sets the mood for a film, and the sounds you hear are just as important as the visuals.

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