Storyboarding for TV | Our Very First Master Class

On March 27th, the team at Sketch To Animate held our first master class on storyboarding for TV. This was a huge milestone for us, as our goal since day one was to hold workshops with artists and train them for story. We had such a great time with everyone who attended and we want to reflect on how the class went, what we managed to achieve and what are our plans moving forward.

Doing a master class has always been something that Travis has wanted to do since he came up with the idea of Sketch To Animate. We’ve always considered ourselves a production company aiming to build a community of storytellers by educating everyone of the power of visual storytelling. There’s a huge demand for story artists in the industry, but a lack of options for story training. And storyboarding is such a multifaceted skill – it involves being adept in draftsmanship, composition, editing, acting, cinematography just to name a few. We’ve gone back and forth as a team, trying to decide how to teach artists in a feasible way, with such a small team. Travis just so happened to have received some old animatics and boards one day, of shows he’s worked on such as Clash of Clans, Disenchantment and Big Mouth. Anneta, brilliant as ever, said “Hey guys, we should show this to the people!” and the rest of the team vigorously agreed.

Uther, Yam, baby bat and giant bat size comparison.
Uther, Yam, baby bat and giant bat size comparison.

We had 119 attendees that Saturday from all over the world, including the Sketch To Animate team who were located in USA, South Africa and Brazil. We started our storyboarding for TV class with a presentation of the boards Travis had done for various TV shows and music videos. It’s always exciting to get a behind the scenes look at how episodes are made, and to compare the storyboards to the final scenes. An interesting point that Travis made about productions in the adult comedy genre, is that you have to board very on model. This is because your storyboards end up going to an animation team overseas and they will animate almost exactly to how your boards are drawn.

A panel from one of Travis' Big Mouth boards.
A panel from one of Travis’ Big Mouth boards.

After the presentation, Travis gave a brief overview of Storyboard Pro and specific configurations to make your workflow easier. Storyboard Pro is an industry standard, especially for TV animation production and it’s offers a lot of great tools for storyboarding. We didn’t spend a lot of time going over the software, but we did try to cover some configurations. Storyboard Pro really deserves it’s own tutorial and we are planning on making that tutorial in the near future, but for now we would like to give you screen shots of the configurations to download. You can find these settings in the preferences menu.

We then got to the meat and potatoes of the class – working on boards together. All the attendees were given an original one page script, character designs and key art to use for this exercise. At Sketch To Animate, we have a little “Traviverse” of original characters for different productions that we are developing. For teaching purposes, we like to use Uther and Yam, the demons of chaos. Together with Travis, we went over the script and Travis broke down his process for when he approaches a script like this. The attendees thumbnailed alongside him and some shared their ideas with us over on our Discord. You can see their work by joining our server here.

An up shot of Uther and Yam running away from giant bats in the sky.
An up shot of Uther and Yam running away from giant bats in the sky.

We then concluded our evening with a question and answers segment. We had a lot of very good questions asked, so much so that we weren’t able to answer them all during the class. We decided to make a YouTube video of all the questions we couldn’t get to, which I’ve included at the top of this article.

Overall, we got very positive feedback about the master class. A lot of attendees felt like they were given valuable information and that they gained real insight into the work of a storyboard artist in the industry. We got some very constructive feedback regarding the length of the class, and also for us to provide more readable material to follow along better during the class. I think for the team, the feedback we were happiest to receive was that people felt so excited about story and storyboarding. If we could achieve anything, it would be to make people more excited to tell their own stories.

With one successful master class under our belt, we feel even more confidant about pursuing programs like workshops and mentorships. We know that there’s a demand for training in story, animation and design because you tell us that’s exactly what you want. We are pretty close to announcing some exciting new events in the next few months, including our branded t-shirts that we released this past week! Be sure to keep up to date with us through our social media and Discord server, as we make our announcements there first.

Thank you to everyone to attended the storyboarding for TV class. We look forward to many more with you! Cheers 👋