Steve Heneveld - Board Artist
Nickelodeon Animation Studios
Brad Yarhouse with additional notes from Susan Bonner 4.24.13
Visiting Artist Notes, Feb. 21 2013, Location: Kendall College of Art and Design
Steve has worked on several shows including Penguins of Madagascar and Monsters
What is the Entry Level Position at Nick?
Board Revisionist is someone whose job it is to make changes to the boards
based on feedback (notes) received from the director, supervising director Changes can range from minor such as shrink
it 20% or put it in TV safe, to whole sequences that need to be added fresh. A Storyboard Revisionist is like being a
sprinter, they need the changes right now.
storyboard artist are sloppy, but get away with it by being humorous. The revisionist may have to add backgrounds,
better character construction to define the board better. An example would be a
character who is drawn reaching behind his back for laughs, but the physical
construction of the CG model does not allow for the character to bend it's arms
behind it's back.
Being a Storyboard
Artist is like running a marathon.
You get six weeks to do an entire set of boards. The six weeks breaks
down into 3 weeks for initial boards, then the boards are pitched. Afterwards
you have 3 weeks to get the changes requested done. Artists are responsible for pacing themselves
and creating their own deadlines. If material is turned in late, you loose your
job. There are no holidays. Deadlines don't move.
Other Jobs related to storyboard artists:
Potentially work freelance with a rep.
Editors Take the
drawings and combine them with the sound to create the animatics.
Process of getting a job as a storyboard artist:
1. Move Plan on moving to L.A.
Send in a portfolio to a creative studio. They may send you a test.
the proper fit at a studio is a difficult
proposition. They spend months at
Nickelodeon reviewing potential candidates then, ended up hiring someone from
don't pay for testing. So, if you are testing, you still have to make
money. Usually, when the call to let you
know you did not get the job they have a P.A. (production assistant) call who
knows nothing about your circumstances. - So, they cannot answer any questions
about "why" you were turned down.
Your portfolio may come back looking like it went through a paper
get a week, and give it your best. You could be competing with at least 10
people at the time doing a test. It can be up to 6 weeks before you hear back
because of the process. Tip: dropping materials off in person
may give you the opportunity to talk to someone and make a more lasting
when you get a job as a full-time storyboard artist, you will be testing for
other shows. Which means, that when you are testing as a new artist, you are
competing against professionals.
included generally in a test: Model sheet, character poses, script (maybe a 1
1/2 pages which is a lot) they give you a blank panel. They don't care if you do the test on paper
but all productions are on Cintiq's.
(for Steve) Several years of freelancing, without his wife working full-time,it would have been very difficult.
4. Connections. Check job postings on http://storyboardsecrets.com/blog/
They really are looking for people,
not just fake posting. But, get to know people, the folks you meet or work with
(eventually) may end up a show director or creator, you just never know.
5. Classes. Continue to expand your capabilities.
Find people you like (Steve liked
some ones blog who worked at Dreamworks) You are paying for classes, make sure
and participate in them. Staying at home
can put you in a rut. Someone with knowledge can help you move out of a rut.
6. Preparing your Portfolio. Always keep working on your portfolio, adding
tip: Don't try to generate on-the-fly new material based on a posting,
it's hard to make material that is good when you are rushed. It can be a four
to one ratio between developing custom portfolios and getting a call back for a
excellence. See what is out there.
Copy other artists work.
(not to show anyone) Copy the work
so you can see how the art is constructed. Break it down into shapes. Try doing what they do, try different poses.
8. Interview. Don't overdress. T-Shirt and Jeans is the
staple. Usually, people are very nice.
9. Entry Job.
They let you know to test for full positions on other shows.
Team Organization On Monsters Versus Aliens:
3 Directors per Show
3 Board artists per Director
1 Revisionist per Director
The day in the life of a storyboard artist at
1. Script Read. All the head guys are there from the various
departments. (CGI, Design, Storyboard, The director, The Executive Producers)
The script is read through. A bit of combat occurs between the CG and the
storyboard artist. For example, pots may not be modeled inside, so the artist
cannot show the inside. Those issues are gone through in the read.
Three weeks till you pitch. (the scary part) When you leave the script read,
you start out with thumbnails. Loose, very quick. Maybe only you can understand.
3. Boarding. You
typically have 19 pages of script, which averages out to 2 pages a day. The
worst situation is when you get something that reads in the script "They
Fight." That one line of type can be three days work.
4. Pitching. You click through your drawings one at a time
in front of the director, producer, etc.
You are trying to sell the script and the drawings. You want them to
laugh. It's a performance –you do voices. They expect a certain
professionalism. They expect you to do
the bare minimum and then they rip you apart.
It takes a thick skin. Someone will take notes for you.
As soon as
they change one thing in your storyboard, it all falls a part. Like pulling on
a thread, it unravels causing a cascade of changes. For example, a hand gun versus a bazooka.
This affects all the boards, how he holds it, where he hides it on his body.
Where he stands, the composition and layout, etc. Pitches last about 15 minutes. One episode is 11 minutes. Going past 15 it starts to drag for everyone. The worst they can do is say "why did
you do that?" (Usually, because
they told you to do it, even when it wasn't funny)
You need to
follow all the rules of storyboarding (180 rule, TV safe, etc.) There are also restrictions such as "no
lower eyelids or no closing the eyes" because the character hasn't been
rigged with lower eyelids. Also
Standards and Practices has to be taken into account and it can be weird what is
allowed or not.
5. Finishes. Three weeks to finalize and
complete. Final boards can run from the bottom end of 900 drawings for an
episode to 1300-1600 for an episode. Steve tends towards the upper number. The number used to be 300 drawings.
6. Revisions. On Monsters Vrs. Aliens, they added 3 weeks
of revision so that artists get a chance to "cool down" after running
a Marathon of 6 weeks of creating the original boards.
7. Animatics. Three rounds. Storyboard, Revision, and
Drawing Jobs found on
a Animated Television show (Monsters Versus Aliens):