WHAT DOES A STORYBOARD REVISIONIST EXACTLY DO AND HOW CAN IT LEAD TO A STORYBOARDING JOB?
When I first graduated from college, I had the great opportunity to move to Vancouver and be a storyboard revisionist on
Some people are lucky enough to go straight into storyboarding, but for most of us, storyboard revisionist is the first step toward a career as story artist, especially in Canada due to the big tv-animation industry.
In my case, it started as just a job while waiting for my training to start at Blue Sky Studio, but it became a great opportunity that actually led to my first storyboarding job.
So, you might ask: What does a storyboard revisionist exactly do and how can I get a storyboarding gig from that?
WHAT IS THE REVISIONIST JOB?
I find that even many people who work in animation end up asking “what does a storyboard revisionist do??”. So, I thought it would be interesting to talk about it a bit, especially for students and those who are just starting out in the animation industry.
As you might guess from the title, the revisionist… revise the boards. It’s a role specific to TV animation and doesn’t usually exist in feature.
During production, the directors will launch the board artists on an episode, and they will draw out the story based on the script and director’s notes. However, once the boards are delivered, the director might want to change something, or the client might have notes. These notes range from changing an expression, to a pose, to a scene and sometime.. it can even require reboarding a whole sequence. These notes will be addressed by the revisionist.
So, why is this a great job to learn?
- Because you are exposed to the work of many different artists
- Because you will be asked to match their style as much as possible and will have a chance to see how different people use shorthand to draw the same character
- Because you will also see what kind of changes are commonly asked during production. You might avoid some of those “mistakes” and become more adaptable to different productions.
This is also an opportunity to show that you can handle more.
FROM FIXING TO MAKING
At some point during my experience as revisionist, I was asked if I felt up to the task of storyboarding half an episode. I know a lot of people that are unsure whether or not they are ready for a job like that. My advice is ready or not, you have to jump on these type of occasions. You will figure out later how to get it done. You have to believe that if they think you are good enough… it means you are.
I asked myself why, among many revisionists, I got the chance to board that half episode. I was looking for some advice I could pass along to future grads or new revisionists. I should start by saying that I was the first revisionist on the show, so I had a bit of an advantage as I knew the show for the longest. Yet, here are some general advice:
Be always on time, easy to communicate with and ready to deliver that last minute revision they desperately need in edit before sending it to the client. Also, if you prove to your Supervisor or Director that they can trust you addressing small notes, then they will eventually give you bigger revisions. And those will prove that you know how to board.
In my case, I was lucky enough to get to reboard a whole 2 minutes chase sequence. Originally they asked for a lot of revs on every shot of the sequence, so I suggested: “what if I just reboard it? I can do thumbnails first, so you are sure that it is what you want.” That shot is what, in my opinion, made them feel fairly safe with giving me part of an episode when the time came.
PRODUCE GREAT WORK
When you revise boards, always match the quality of the show. In my case, one of the directors, Kenny, boarded part of the pilot, setting the standard really high . I always considered that to be the level I should aspire to, even if it was just a revision.
If the show has several seasons already out, you could ask your supervisor if there is any boarded episode they particularly like. This way you get an idea of what they expect.
DELIVER ON TIME
Can’t stress this enough. You can be drawing
Also, try to meet deadlines avoiding overtime. Overtime shows that you are not very organized and might fail delivering an episode if trusted with the job of storyboarding. Try to fit the work in the hours you have. Some extra hours can be normal at the beginning, but you should actively work to adjust to the production schedule.
BE READY FOR LUCK
And obviously you need to be lucky. If I wasn’t the first revisionist on the show, if they didn’t want to change that whole chase sequence, if they didn’t miss a storyboard artist… I wouldn’t have a storyboard artist credit on the show now.
However, luck is not enough. You need to be ready when your chance come and jump on it!
These are my thoughts and I hope you found them useful. If you want to share your experience or have thoughts or questions, leave a comment down below. I’ll do my best to answer.