Monday, June 02, 2014

"Presentation of Storyboards" by Joe Ranft

Another gem from the Vance Gerry Disney storyboard book is this section on how to pitch storyboards, written by the great Joe Ranft.

I apologize for the number stamp over the text. This used to be considered confidential material and everyone's book was stamped. I actually never received a copy of the book…someone let me copy their book at some point.

I don't think this material is considered secret anymore.

So this handout is full of helpful pointers for back when story artists used to do sketches on paper, pin them to a board, and pitch them to a group. Story isn't really done that way anymore at Disney. Everyone at Disney works in a digital format and pitches their boards onto a big screen with a projector. Nowadays, you don't have to face your audience….you get to sit behind them while you pitch. It takes a lot of the "facing a firing squad" feeling out of pitching, I can tell you that.

Check out these tips, along with Joe's great illustrations:

Almost all of Joe's advice is still very relevant to pitching in the digital age. The main point of pitching boards is to give a sense of what the sequence will feel like when it's turned into a film, and that means not slowing down to over-explain anything or get off-track from communicating the story and characters to the audience.

Here's a video I found online (I think it's from one of the "Toy Story" DVDs) of Joe talking about storyboarding and pitching a sequence.

Hope you enjoyed the handout. If you have any questions (or can't make out the text), let me know.

And to end things, here's a photo of Vance Gerry himself, pitching the old school way to an audience that includes Woolie Reitherman, Larry Clemmons, and Milt Kahl.


kevinzico said...


Florian Brauch said...

Ohh good Idea to share that, thanks

I found that some months ago, I don't know who's he but he pitches about Monster University in the digital age =)

joscha said...

I really enjoy all these hand-outs, Mark, I hope there are many more to come!

Don't you miss contact with your audience, when you're pitching while sitting behind them? In my experience if a pitch is going well, you can actually feed yourself off the energy coming from the audinece. Seems harder to do this if they aren't looking at you.

(I always figured modern story picthes were still done with the artist standing up front only using a remote, like with a powerpoint presentation.)

BTW, cool video, Florian! I believe that is Kelsey Mann who was the head of the MU story team.

Floyd Norman said...

Actually, I prefer the old fashioned storyboard pitch with the board artist facing his or her audience. The digital pitch more closely follows the film metaphor but unfortunately I feel that comes a little early in the process. As Vance Gerry taught me - deal with the story first - and the film making later.

Finally, I feel the digital pitch is for wimps. Imagine pitching to Walt Disney? Are you ready for that? We had to be.

mark kennedy said...

Thanks for the comments! I'm glad they are helpful and I'll post more soon.

I don't really miss pitching in front of people, although it is true that there was a certain electric energy from pitching to people. But it can be hard to tell if the sequence is working or not when someone is a good pitcher and they're putting on a good "show". That's not really the point, and I actually like to give an underplayed pitch, because then I can tell if the material is working or not. I want the audience to respond to my work, not my performance. But everyone has a different perspective.

I've pitched to Michael Eisner and John Lasseter, so I guess that's as close as I'll be able to get to Walt Disney. No matter who I'm pitching to, though, I'm always focused on the material--what's working? What could be better--and it doesn't really matter to me who's there…it's all about the material and all of us working together to make it better.

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