Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DVD ExtraCredit - Storyboarding with Monsters Inc.

You've got a master's degree worth of filmmaking knowledge sitting unlearned in your DVD collection! Don't believe me? Watch a DVD of your favorite movie with the commentary track. I will eat my blog if you don't learn something fascinating about how filmmakers think and work.

I always try to direct educators to cool DVD extras that can help them and their students better understand the filmmaking process. One of my favorites is a storyboarding skills building exercise using a DVD of Disney/Pixar's MONSTERS INC.

Like most of the Disney DVD releases of late, MONSTERS INC. is packed with all kinds of great extras. The Storyboard to Final comparisons are excellent for helping students of all ages get comfortable creating very quick storyboards.

Here's how you do it.

What you need:
  • Both disks from the MONSTERS INC. set. & DVD player
  • Blank storyboards. OR notebook paper folded in 6ths.
  • Document camera OR camcorder connected to a monitor or projector.
First: What makes MONSTERS INC. a good choice for a storyboarding lesson? I like it because all the characters are based on very simple, primitive shapes. Circles. Squares. Sticks. SO they are easier to sketch. Builds confidence!

On disk 2 click the 'Humans Only' section. From the menu of doors click 'Story', then select Storyboard to Film Comparison.

You will find a comparison of a News Report scene from Chapter 13 of the feature disk.


Basic Idea:
  • Play the original 30 second scene from disk 1 for the class.
  • Then play it again, stopping at each shot.
  • Give the class, including yourself about 30 seconds to quickly sketch what they see on screen.
  • Point out the basic shapes of the characters to help students sketch generally NOT draw specifically.
  • Under the document camera, compare your own sketch in real-time to the Storyboard to Film Comparison on disk 2. Discuss how it compares.
  • Repeat with some student storyboards.
  • Laugh
This REVERSE STORYBOARDING exercise is a favorite of teachers at my workshops and I hear it has gone over well with kids in the classroom. Give it a try.

Let me know how it works or if you have a favorite DVD extra you use to teach or just think is cool.

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