Saturday, 27 March 2010

Ideas, character designs and storyboards

Almost forgot about blogging these sketches.
I've been experimenting with my character, the aristocratic standard lamp. I particularly like this sketch (blue arrow). He's standing upright (as you would expect) and just the general look of him, I think is good, with the monocle as the eye. He almost has a slight cuteness to it.

Here I've also experimented with the face. Not that it has a face as such, but I've tried to get some expression into it.

Story wise, I'm sticking with the basic story I came up with here. It does need a little bit of tweaking, but I think I know how its going to come together. There is not enough time to make drastic changes, bearing in mind that we have a deadline of getting the final storyboards done for Tuesdays animation workshop. I've done a rough storyboard, just to map out the basic structure of the story, although the choice of camera angles etc are not necessarily the final angles.

Oh and just to clarify;

The first board is meant to be a scene where lots of standard lamps are in the department store.
They are getting sold, all except for the aristocratic standard lamp. (I guess no one whats old fashioned lamps like that anymore)

So this means that by evening, when the shop is shut, we are left with one very lonely standard lamp and all because there appears to be no one that wants that sort of lamp.

Looking around in misery, he thinks he sees another standard lamp, in the distance. Aristocratic or not... he wants company, so he decides to walk (or in this case, hop) over to it.

He gets up close to this rather fancy looking standard lamp, slightly lifts the lampshade, only to discover the head of a mannequin. (it is a hat display)
In slight shock, he backs up...

...meanwhile the cord that is attached to him has reached its end and he trips up and falls down.
The light bulb smashes and the light goes out. (Here the screen goes black)

Now at this point, we are all thinking, oh no... what a depressing story with no resolution.

Now what I'm thinking is that the aristocratic standard lamp has a new bulb screwed in. (lights go back on) and he discovers that he has moved from the department store, and into a very grand looking house/mansion of some sort.

OK... what just happened (which we don't see in the film) is that the standard lamp was eventually sold and a new bulb was put in, thus making him come back to life.

Anyway, I'm thinking now that (ignoring the last board in the sequence) the standard lamp could be looking around at its new surroundings, all happy as we see all these other aristocratic items/objects and paintings and tapestries etc... you get the idea.

I'm about to start my final story board now. Any more opinions regarding the design of the character and story are welcome.


  1. You're really working hard to resolve things, Ethan - and I know you're keen to have things clear - but your third act just doesn't satisfy yet; acts 1 and 2 are very nice - with the realisation that the other hatstand is a mannequin - but the ending following the black-out isn't strong enough; it needs an additional twist or 'voila!' It just feels to me that the relationship between the mannequin and the standard lamp is key - that after the black-out, the audience should be supplied with somekind of resolution that involves that relationship; at the moment, your structure feels anti-climatic...

  2. I've just thought - how about making the revelation that the other lamp is infact a mannequin into your third act? So, you have aristocratic lamp shunning the other lamps around it - it's attention fixed on another, more 'posh' lamp on the other side of the department store (this is your Act 1 is setting up standard lamp's conceit and wish to be with the other lamp on the other side of the store). Act 2 sees the lamp moving towards the other lamp - flex pulls tight, lamp falls - blackness. Act 3 - bulb back in - lamp is finally next to 'other lamp', but other lamp is a mannequin and the 'area' in which the lamp and it are standing is the 'damaged goods - money off' section of the store - (because the lamp was damaged when it fell over). It's a 'grass is greener on the other side' type story: it's also all about your sleight of hand - making the audience think what the standard lamp thinks - with the 3rd act coming as a proper surprise?

  3. well at the moment, the only other ending that I can think of, could be that the hat that was on the mannequin could have also been bought at the same time as the standard lamp, and was hanging on a hatstand in the house. Although that's not exactly climactic either. I'll keep working on my final storyboards up until the last act and hope that something better comes to me.

  4. I'm just reading your second post

  5. I think I'll go with you adaption. While I started storyboarding I actually made it so that the label on the hat also looked like the on/off pull switch. That way I can really trick the audience into believing it is another standard lamp.

  6. Yes - that's your big challenge - and I think, if you give your story a slight 'moral' - (i.e. pride goes before a fall), the structure tightens instantly and your narrative has that elusive 'click' wherein the circumstances feel inevitable and rewarding and the audience goes 'yeah!' It's the same when I'm writing something myself - so often it's not the content that's wrong, but the order in which the information is presented to the audience. Make Act 3 a revelation and comeuppance and your story will work; though, thinking about it, the revelation that the lamp's goal (the other lamp) is actually a mannequin might sit at the climax of act 2 - you cut between lamp 'seeing' his mistake and the flex tightening - and then 'crash'! And then, in Act 3, you see the standard lamp reduced to bargain basement status alongside the 'last season's hats' mannequin display - to reveal the mannequin in the third act might 'eclipse' everything else... anyway, get it drawn out and see how it plays...

    meanwhile - your thoughts on the new Doctor Who trailer... and the new logo? I have my reservations...

  7. Well the trailers make new Doctor Who look promising and I believe that Matt Smith will be great. I always enjoy Steven Moffat's episodes so I happy that he is the head writer.

    I like the new logo, although that was mainly because I thought using the letters DW as the Tardis was clever. It also has a classic Doctor Who logo feel to it. I can't say whether I prefer it to the current logo yet.

    What is a Dalek doing with a Union Jack sticker???

  8. Hmm - I didn't notice the sticker - curiouser and curiouser; I wonder if we'll find out more about the Doctor's wife from the library episodes? I'm thinking 'yes'...