Sequential Narrative

UPDATE: I have embedded a video in this post via vimeo. One of the machines I use in my studio is a lumbering, Pre-Columbian Power PC unit, on which I cannot install an up-to-date super-groovy Intel-based Flash video player. Please note that if you are using an older computer, you may encounter a blank space about halfway down this post, followed by a link to vimeo. Just follow the link to vimeo, then come on back to us.   


ALSO, regular GT readers: it is unusual for me to address a post directly to students, as I do below, bypassing you. Please know that you are implicitly considered. Ultimately, we are all in the same boat. 


Dear Seniors: since our session today was taken up entirely by critique, I was not able to screen some of the material I had planned to show.

As I indicated in the few minutes we had at the end of class, your next problem is the creation of a modestly-scaled visual story, to be delivered solely through images. That is, your story cannot have dialogue. You can't narrate it. We must be able to track what happens from frame to frame, panel to panel, beat to beat.

You are to deliver your narrative in either of two forms: a miniature film (iMovie is fine) or a sustained comic narrative. If you make the film, it should run 30 to 45 seconds; if the comic, a four-pager. But in either case, make it your own; turn the problem to your own ends.

Here are your prompts:


Choose one, define your action and get to work on a storyboard. Ultimately, these should provide a decent level of finish art, but we'll discuss that on a case-by-case basis, and after we're well underway. This will be a two week project.

This film by French animator Céline Desrumaux recapitulates some of our received imagery for rocket launches. You've seen some of this before. But the image construction, intercutting and timing are lovely, and I show it here because it delivers a straightforward tale of preparation and payoff. We prepare the rocket, we prepare the astronauts, we launch. Finis. Although your project won't be nearly so long, the film provides an excellent example of what I'm asking you to produce: a wordless narrative. Audio makes a contribution, but primarily through pacing and atmosphere. If I turn the sound off, I still track the action.

And thanks to friend and colleague John Hendrix for tipping me off to Desrumaux's film.

I have written on cinematic storyboarding before. Review here if necessary. Remember: each "shot" performs one task.

Ms. Desrumaux cites Chris Ware as one of her influences, and it's possible to see the connection. But it had been my intention to show these pages from Acme Novelty Library No. 18 (2007 ) since I spent time with them last summer. These big, silent cinema pages punctuate denser, wordier sequences. They're narrative tone poems.

Have a productive week, and I'll see you Wednesday.