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“Asphalt Xtreme” Storyboards

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Woohoo!  Here’s another fun project from earlier this year that I’m very proud to show- fun video game racing action! The “Asphalt” Series is well known in gaming circles as a premium racing product and I was very excited to be involved with my clients at PSYOP for their pitch and production of this great spot.

Conceptually, it’s very simple:  Showcase the main themes of the game series: Racing, Mayhem, and Variety.  Variety of cars, and variety environments.  Hate to say it, but this was kind of an easy one for me… A commercial like this has no room for subtlety, so it’s just a matter of attempting to give equal weight to the important elements (variety of cars and environments) and balance that with a ramping of the action to an ultimate climax, all within 30 seconds!!  EXTREME!!!

 

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It’s crunch time!

 

This project had two parts- the pitch and the production.  For the pitch (in which we try to “win” the job), we kind of had a looser goal- wow the client with, well, creative compositions to showcase the action and variety.  Promise them the moon and see if we can deliver. There were all kinds of different ideas being tossed about- mostly the idea was to bring a realistic visualization of the gameplay to the screen.  Also on the job were some very talented 3d and concept artists, and we all pitched in to contributed pieces of the final puzzle.  The pitch was won on the merits of this collaboration- some of which I’ll share with you below (they didn’t make the final cut, but helped advance the job along, and look cool, besides!).

 

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I liked the idea of a rally car using a hidden rope bridge to find a shortcut to get ahead of the main pack! Many video games have hidden passageways, and this was in that spirit.

 

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As above, so below; an early concept of the dune buggy jump- it was an earlier understanding that these cars would “find” the best route forward based on their natural abilities.

 

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I really liked the sense of speed in this early frame- many of which were drawn based on other artist’s tight compositions.

 

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Among the natural environments, we assumed there would be a mandate to have more urban or industrial environments as well, but not so much in the final edit. Nevertheless, we had prepared works in the case of that possibility. Here, the racers surge towards an active loading dock area.

 

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Again, we see the variety of cars and car abilities in their approach to surmounting the dynamic racing obstacles before them.

 

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Seeking to really emphasize the sense of racing through rally courses worldwide, we seized upon opportunities to utilize highly recognizable landmarks and locations.

 

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Concept for a “desert” title composition.

 

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Another alternate concept for a “Jungle” title composition.

 

It was a great team effort, and we won the job.  Now comes the hard part- execution.  They had me back to refine some concepts and nail transitions into something that hit all the marks.  You ready for the boards?  Here you go!

 

And here’s the final spot!

What a wild ride!  Soo….. Sometimes I have a massive amount of input on a job, and I feel like I get to pick all the shots, and control the pacing, and the visual storytelling (remember, for many jobs, and certainly in this case, I’m not even given a script or shotlist).  BUT in this case, much of the concepting was done by talented 2d and 3d artists working concurrently- and so about the only idea I want to point out that I specifically contributed was the opening transition where the camera appears to be POV from the view of the bumper, but pulls out to be the POV looking into the reflection of the bumper.  As far as I know, I “invented” that, at least in this kind of car/racing/bumper context.  The thing about that kind of camera move is, it’s something you can only pull off in CG, so you’d never see that in classic cinema- since you’d have to magically “erase” the reflection of the cameraman.  So, there you go, I did something cool.  But even so, just as much if not more credit goes to the director and the CG artists for actually pulling it off and making it look amazing- you never know with uncharted territory, but that’s life… TO THE XTREME!!!!

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

-Max

 

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:30 B&W Family Food Kids Pitch Boards Products Samples Shoot Boards Storyboarding VFX

Nutella “Spread the Happiness” Storyboards

 

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OMG pancakes!!!

Woohoo! In addition to the previous Nutella spot, I happened to do the boards for the most recent follow up- “Spread the Happiness!”  Once again produced by my great clients at Brand New School.

They are playing this spot a LOT on TV right now- which is great, since it rocks!  It’s fun, it’s pop, it’s delicious.

The challenges involved in this spot were finding a fresh take on simple transitions and how best to style them in an appetizing way and choreograph them best to the music.  I drew a LOT of frames for it, as we would build many animatics to see what worked best- there was a lot of experimentation with different kinds of wipes and reveals.  But that’s the best way to get things perfect!

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I always enjoy drawing families having fun.  It turns out though, one thing that is hard to draw is people sitting around a table.  It sounds simple but it’s really tricky because you have to draw in near perfect perspective just to get the height and distance relationships right between the chair and the table, and then again for the people who actually sit in them.  If you draw it wrong, all your chairs will look like they are different sizes, or even like your actors are sitting on phonebooks or booster seats.  It’s tough!  One of those things that you only notice if you do it wrong, and since I think mine turned out pretty decent, I have to make a point about it 🙂  I left the extra “empty” space at the top of the frame because at one point we weren’t sure if there would be text, logo, or slogan superimposed there.

Here’s a great drawing of a product shot- always important to draw the product really well!!!

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Here’s the full board sequence:

 

And for comparison, here’s the final commercial!  Turned out pretty cool!

 

It’s a fun song, but when you work with the editors and animators that have to cut the commercial together, you have to listen to the song over and over and over and over again until it loses all meaning.  Yup, there’s a limit to how much happiness one can take!  Ha!

Thanks!  See you next time.

-Max

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Pine Sol Storyboards – “Powerful Clean, Lemony Fresh”

 

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Here’s a fun spot I worked on earlier this year for my great clients at Mirada.  It’s a charming commercial for lemon-scent Pine Sol, and to provide a brief backstory: the agency had “tested” a wacky concept of small soldiers and ballerinas chanting “powerful clean” and “lemony fresh” as they jumped into a Pine Sol bottle.  And it tested well.  Like, CRAZY well.  So we were asked to put together a pitch on how we might take that concept and flush it out into a fun character animation spot.

The concept is super simple so all the nuance and storytelling is in the directing and camera angles, and really making sure the characters are on target and doing their thing, and so the success here would come down to the execution of the concept.  Aside from the storyboards, there were character designers and concept artists working as well, but we were working concurrently so I didn’t have any direct reference for what anything should look like, so I had to charge forward as best I could.

We actually did have an “angle” if you will- the director was very interested in attempting to channel some of the very popular Taylor Swift video for “Bad Blood,” as in, to make sure we charged the lemony fresh ballerinas with a kind of kick-ass spin.  Something different!  I thought it was a great twist, and you can see in the frames, especially in this one:

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Hardcore Freshness Ballerinas and Scrub Soldiers (complete with assault mops), in Pine Sol style, and miniaturized, in a typical household kitchen.  I could picture that pretty easy.  Here’s the boards:

 

The client apparently loved the boards, because they were not only awarded the job, but they ended up not needing me to revise any of the frames- which is a pretty awesome deal!  Here’s the finished spot:

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Not bad!  Looks like they did away with the “Bad Blood” references- we are back to cutesy ballerinas, but I think that might be a good move, given the overall timing.  Spot looks great.  And I’m glad they kept in the “lemon” parachutes- that was my idea!

See you next time.

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:30 B&W Cars Family Females Humor Males Pitch Boards Products Samples Storyboarding Synergy Vehicles

“Date Night” Storyboards

 

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Here’s a quick sweet little project I boarded a while back – one of those synergistic multi-product subtle mega-mercials masquerading as a network PSA – tips for a fun “date night!”

Here, a couple starts out there morning routine as usual- but then in a moment of whimsy, it strikes them to spice things up a bit and go on an impromptu date night!  All with the help the Hallmark Channel’s suggestion of a “Date Night” jar of fun date activities, and of course, great products from Proctor and Gamble, like Crest toothpaste and Pantene hair spray.

They dress their best, pick from the date night jar, and the winner is: ‘Rent a Convertible and Buzz up the Coast for some Seafood!’  Sounds like fun!  Here’s the boards:

 

What I like most about these boards is the great way I pulled off a natural depiction of the “everyday couple.”  The first couple frames of the pair brushing their teeth, being casual/typical/routine, and then simultaneously coming to the same notion- “are you thinking what I’m thinking?”  Blowdrying their hair, picking out clothes, checking their makeup- it’s really important to be able to convincingly draw the normal, everyday stuff, and making it appealing, and I was lucky to have this practice.

I don’t know if they ever did make this commercial, so I don’t have the final vid to show you either way, but no biggie, it’s all about the boards anyway!  See you next time!

-Max

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Angels Baseball – Storyboards

 

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Here’s a quick one today- sometimes I get contacted at the last minute to quickly sketch up a concept for a pitch, and it’s just a handful of frames to run by a client, and see what might stick.  That was the case for this project- and I don’t know enough of the context or concept to really even say what’s going on here- I guess its about transitioning from being a baseball fan when you are young, to carrying that tradition into adulthood, while still retaining that childlike sense of wonder for our national pastime.  How’s that sound?

Joking aside, theres a lot of difficulty sometimes in my job when the director briefly describes the shot but provides no context, like “A kid is facing camera at homeplate, about to swing at a pitch, when suddenly the screen splits with a bolt of energy and he becomes a professional athlete”.  That’s nice, but how old is the kid?  Is he in a uniform? Is it just him or are there many kids on his team?  Are they at a stadium or neighborhood field?  What’s the time of day?  Right of left handed batter?  Is there a PRODUCT or BRAND that I should be featuring?  I don’t have the answers to these questions, all I have is the shot description, which is pretty darn vague!  No background knowledge to fill in the gaps- I don’t even know if this is a humorous spot, or inspirational, I just have to run with it.  Amazingly, according to the director, I always seem to nail it.  So I have my immense work experience to thank for that, I guess.  At the end of the day, I can always make an appealing drawing, and sometimes that’s enough.  And I do like how these drawings turned out, even though I can’t explain them fully.  Enjoy!

 

Looking back, I really like how I handled the ambiguity of detail in these shots- there’s just enough information to describe what’s happening, but really nothing is specified at all – minus the Angels team logo.  There’s plenty of room for the client to bring their limited imagination to help embellish the concept- I guess that’s why the director finds my work so useful!

And I have no clue if these where ever used in a production!  Many times I just miss the final outcome entirely, if there even is one.  That’s life in the major leagues, folks.

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Star Wars Lego – Commercial Pitch

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A long time ago, in a studio far far away- I drew up some storyboards for a Star Wars TFA / Legos teaser-style commercial!  Its a lot of fun to draw Star Wars stuff, and like everyone else on the planet, I was very excited about the new films coming out.  So I’m super happy that these boards turned out so great!

So the concept is pretty simple; it had to be, since the details of the movie where still very secret while we were working on this pitch. With a very cinematic, true-to-the-source/directing style approach, we create a tension and build the action as something unseen is pounding at the pod bay doors and we see a squad of stormtroopers converge in anticipation of something powerful breaking through.  Boom!  The doors blast open and inside is something- very small!  Lego star wars characters!  The main Hero lineup is there, ready for action, and they charge through and chase away the stormtroopers.  Classic misdirection.

Here’s the boards:

 

I had two days to put these boards together and I think they look great- there’s a great cinematic feel to them and somehow I managed to use some colorization photo effects in photoshop to quickly add some effective color treatments.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the job, but it was a fun project!

See you next time,

Max