The main role of the storyboard artist is to interpret and present a script visually telling the story in a clear way that an audience can understand having no knowledge of the text. They illustrate the narrative, updating their work frequently to adhere to the directors comments and changes to the scripts. They should have good story-telling skills, be film literate, able to work individually and as part of a team, with good drawing skills adapting to a wide range of styles following established models. They should be computer literate as more recently storyboards have been created digitally as story reels. The goal of the storyboard is to iron out any kinks in the storyline early on before the film is put into production. Every pose/position of the acting has to be drawn out and a typical Pixar film would have between 50 to 75 000 storyboards for an entire production.
Llyn Hunter has been working in the industry as a storyboard artist for 18 years and has worked for many of the big studios on well-known films and TV cartoons including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Animaniacs and Baby Loony Toons. She explains that storyboards work as the blueprint for the cartoons with everyone referring back to them to make sure everything is working together. Her favourite cartoons to work on were Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain because her roots are in old time Warner Bros., which is what she grew up with. The negatives of being a storyboard artist for her, are that everybody wants as much work done in as little time and pay as possible, as well as the jobs being harder to find. Her advice for anyone getting into storyboarding is to learn the computer programs as everyone is switching to it, and that nothing gets you a job better then getting the gofer job in a studio – just be in the environment and work up.
Some examples of her work:
A storyboard artist that worked more recently on Wall-E is Derek Thompson who essentially re-drew the movie over and over again for several years. The goal of this was to map out the story so that in production they can re-create it cinematically. Storyboarding for Wall-E took more than 125,000 drawings with a team of around 6 the majority of the time. ‘It’s not a glamour job where you get to see your finished thing up on screen – it’s very skeletal.’