Tag Archives: layout

When the intro- has the wrong -duction..

And now for a little 22 to 28 January 2017. It’s a long-ish post this week so I’ve put in lots of layout pictures to break up the text. 🙂

This week I started layout on the scene where we meet the robot for the first time.
There’s literally two more shots left in that scene to do layout for and I may even get to those later today. Hooray! I even managed to avoid doing a minor rewrite earlier this week after I spotted a conflict between staging and continuity. Hooray! 🙂

“Amazing! A rewrite was averted! Full water vapour is ahead!”

Once the robot intro scene is laid out, I’m going back to the opening scene that I started layout on at the end of December 2016. I was having trouble staying motivated so I halted layout work on the introduction and cut my teeth on the more fun scenes towards the end of the movie instead. It was a good move, because now every scene except the introduction is laid out (aside from those two shots but who’s counting?)

I like how “Robot” has come together – it’s anarchic and silly and quirky and fun. The “introductory” scene on the other hand has a few too many problems to ignore:

  • the story just blips in out of nowhere
  • the “intro” feels like an escalation scene, not an establishing scene
  • it doesn’t have the same tone as the rest of the story, so it doesn’t set the tone like a good introduction should
  • we don’t really get to know the characters or understand their relationship to one another (also a note I got from “Sombrero”) which can be a sticking point for some audience members
  • it uses characterisations which are more “Sombrero” than “Robot”
  • the focus is Gronky goofing off, but should be more on Pointy’s struggle to fit the rest of the story
  • nothing particularly funny happens, though it is kind of playful and cute which I’ve discovered is an acceptable stand-in for funny – but funny is better!
  • it doesn’t set up gags and cause-effect scenarios which play out later, not as strongly as it should at least
  • it also sets up ideas which don’t pay off
  • I never actually finished writing it – there’s “insert gag here” panels in the thumbnail sheet, and doing those gags is going to take a lot of time
  • somehow it’s still over-long

When I wrote it back in December, I was trying to give the story a concise introduction to keep the running time down. However, mere conciseness isn’t enough! A lean introduction is great, but not if it misses setting the right tone, meeting the characters and their situation properly while keeping the tone funny and sweet and a little bit quirky. There’s only one thing to do.

“Wait — you’re rewriting AGAIN!? You’re going to give yourself a rash or something!”

There’s another good reason to rewrite the introduction but it takes longer to explain:

I got notes at Blender Conference 2016 about “Sombrero” (thanks Colin!) about how Pointy’s problem was repeatedly being solved then unsolved to create another problem. It made the pacing very stop-start. In “Robot”, the only time Pointy’s problem gets solved with any certainty is at the end. To do that, any solutions to Pointy’s problems have to be an obvious, unacceptable compromise upfront. That compromise isn’t obvious in the intro at all, and to make it adequately obvious I have to shift the focus of the scene dramatically. Frankly, the scene isn’t that amazing that I feel a need to salvage it in its entirety. More than anything, the start of the story wants a re-think.

And it’s already begun to get one! I mentioned last week that I started thumbnailing a new introduction. I’m going to develop that as the new opener, if for no other reason than I think it’ll be cute when Gronky imitates a car immobiliser, much to Pointy’s confusion.

“A what?”

You’ll see. Catch you next week!