Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ben Balistreri Lecture

Been working away on storyboards for Monday's class--just finished, a grand total of 57 boards-- so I have the chance to post my notes from the first guest lecture.

Overall, his lecture was very inspiring and highly informative. He shared a lot of his work, both design wise and storyboard wise and discussed various aspects of each. Some of the work he shared included the boards for an upcoming Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Thanksgiving special...looking really cool. Supposed to be an hour and half long special and he shared one sequence from the show. In-between his pitch he'd discuss the lessons he learned when storyboarding for a Flash-made show, like how it's best to keep characters in profile rather than a lot of perspective based movement(moving away or towards the camera). Much easier for the symbol based work-flow. He initially graduated from CalArts as a character designer and was hired for the particular job. When he left his first job at Disney TV he started to take advantage of any opportunities to learn other fields within the business, which was how he developed as a storyboard artist. He particularly learned a lot about boarding camera moves, one piece of advice he gave was to, "look at live action films. That's how you can learn about boarding decent camera moves and get some interesting shots for your films." Another point he touched on was how much freedom you have even as a hired storyboard artist. When boarding a director's ideas(therefore, not your own), at least for TV--probably applies to movies too, but board what you want to board, the directors he worked with allowed this freedom of ideas, however directors ultimately make the final decision on what should be cut to even how the pacing of a scene should go. Board a scene to your best ability, to what you think is appropriate and then hand it off knowing it could be completely different(or gone). After discussing this he moved onto design.

He shared dozens of his own drawings, which a couple can be seen on his blog. He brought in the original thumbnails, studies, etc. all the way up to the finals on a couple pieces. I'm just going to list the key points for Design:
There are no happy accidents with design. An artist should never be happy on the first pass. A strong design should look like a lot of thought was put into it.
It's better to have an appealing drawing than a super technical drawing.
Repetition with variation equals a unifying and interesting design.
Get the underlying structure first---THEN push it as far as it could possibly go.
Research is key, however there's a fine line between copying and studying and you're not a slave to the photo. Observe to make the design your own. Understand what the reality is.
His work-flow is: Realistic study based on several references then push the design to the very limits.
When a design seems boring it means the shapes are too even. If you can basically cut a character down the middle and the proportions could be mirrored onto the other half, then you've got a boring design. Push one aspect of the character to fix this problem. Again never settle on the first pass.
As a designer, you need to cater to your own style however in order to have a secure job you need to be adaptable with others' styles.

He followed this part up with a demo on his personal inking technique, which is very difficult to depict here. Basically he uses 3 pens: An India Ink brushtip pen, a super fine tip, and a 005 micron. In particular work towards yourself when drawing the line, then taper off towards yourself. For a thick line: Just build it up, again working towards yourself---not away.

Anyways, that's all the notes I had. I enjoyed the lecture and was pretty inspired to get crackin' on my homework for Character Design---this week it's lions. Well it's going on after 1 am and I've got a full day of cube-time tomorrow!

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