Narrative, Concept and Design


Above is my Pre-viz which I created from my storyboard – It was the first time that I ever created a pre-visualization for one of my units (before I haVe used animatics) but it was a really good way to start building up my scene and to show what worked well and what didn’t.  It meant that I could play around with the objects and adjust anything which didn’t work out in the end. The PREVIZ brought my storyboard to life and helped me help me work camera angles that I needed. Some of the angles that I did use looked funny and so it meant that I needed to make changes. The pre-viz was extremely helpful as it let me explore decide on my final camera angles so I knew exactly how I wanted my final animation to look.

Three Storyboards / and rough storyboards

CHOSEN AND FINAL IDEA (storyboard 3)


Above is my final storyboard which I created after the formative – it is developed from my previous storyboard – and was created during the pre-viz creation. I was able to change cameras and edit easily and so I created this final storyboard, The first frame slowly reveals the scene – the impact of seeing all the plants. After this several slow paced cuts creates build up curiousity of what these plants are doing there – and why they are labelled with dates and memories We finally see the sofa – (the indication of a character) from afar (another wide shot) then we move with a slow paced camera toward the side table where a vintage photograph of the couple when they were younger (holding a plant) – which finally lets the viewer understand the relationship between the scene and characters. We then travel to the plant which sits on the sofa and has the words ‘our last’ written on the label – which shows that this is their last memory together – a lasting impression on the viewer.


Idea one, is a story of a couple which collect their memories in the form of a plant. Every ‘milestone’ memory such as an anniversary, birthday, loving message, argument is recorder by labeling a plant with that memory. As the couple grow older the plants fill up the conservatory where they reside. When the husband dies – the lady cannot bare to look after the plants, but also is unable to at her old age. She passes away soon after and the conservatory is left alone with only the plants and their memories. The plants soon become unkempt and take over the scene. The last shot in the scene is on the sofa which the wife used to sit on, a small plant which is labelled: ‘our last’ – and is the last plant which they collected with one another – it is placed on the seat to keep the connection of the memories with her. Inside this plant are two small plant sprouts which represent the couple.



Below I have created six storyboards which focus around the same narrative but different ways of telling that story – and looking at different camera angles in the scene. I wanted to do this many to ensure that I explored several ways before choosing a fixed idea. In the end I decided to use a mixture from a section of these storyboards in my work. Below this sheet of all six storyboards I have placed a close up of each and explained a little further into the small differences which I looked at for each storyboard.



1What I was interested in with this storyboard was expressing the idea of the plants being hidden in view so we are introduced first with this dark room – heavy shadows casted over a majority of the scene so all is slightly hidden – then we see the shot of the window – ripped curtains shows the air coming in from a broken window, we then return back to the original scene and the sun has come out of the clouds and the scene is illuminated and all the plants come to view. We then have a selection of close up shots of plants all around which show the overgrown nature they are in. We then see an old photograph of the couple. We return back to the chair where we see a small plant with the label: our last on it. What I really liked about this scene is that it was straight forward and followed a nice path into the story – not giving too much away. I actually used a majority of this within the overall final storyboard – as I felt it had the best overall structure.

2The above storyboard begins from the exterior of the conservatory and then we see the structure within – which would be a victorian style conservatory. We then would track down to see all the plants within the room with memories written onto the pots. After we would see a wide shot of the sofa ‘representative of our main character’ – we see a couch inside this conservatory and then we notice on the side table a selection of objects. A photograph of a couple with a plant, a pair of glasses belonging to the man and a small potted plant – with the label: ‘our last’ written on. I am against doing the exterior because it would mean I would need to spend extra time on a second setting when I would rather perfect the one scene. I like the shot taken behind the sofa as it gives a nice indication that the room is a conservatory. I decided in this storyboard that the plant would be placed on the side table – however now looking back it doesn’t have the same connection with the owner of the sofa if not placed there – it shows how the it is their last memory.


This storyboard begins at a close up of a plant – instead of a normal wide angle. We will then move the camera back to reveal more and more plants with label stuck into the pot itself. We see plants coming from a draw of a bookshelf – these shots would be used to build up curiosity and set the scene. The camera would then reveal the wide shot of the entire conservatory – but in particular the sofa which is the place of our character. We notice on the sofa a walking stick – which indicates an elderly person. We then cut to a view of a couple in the 50s who are putting the labels into the pots. We then see the last pot on the sofa with two small sprouts of a plant which represents the couple. I really like the build up of anticipation of this as the viewer would slowly build up information about the environment before the introduction to any characters.


This storyboard begins with the the photograph of a couple a man proposing with a plant. We then cut to the plant after the many years (indicated with the number 1) we then are presented with the sofa which has a dark shadow across it – the angle then changes to show the conservatory window panel.  and all the plants within the whole room to create a impact of the amount of plants which has been given to the wife over the years. We then again focus on the sofa and to the side table with the man’s glasses and a vintage photograph – another photograph falls from the side table which reveals them both as an elderly couple. I didn’t like this one as much as it relied to heavily on photographs I wanted to show my story through the environment. I wasn’t that happy with the camera angles either.


We are introduced the the environment first with a wide shot of the sofa – the room is dark and this projects a sad atmosphere. The photograph of a young couple is shown, then another shot of an elderly couple, and again to another photograph of just the lady alone with plants. (The husband has died.) We then see the condition of the plants as we have several close up shots of the wild plants all over. Another wide shot of the alone chair and then of the small plant which resides of the sofa – 2 small plants indicate the death of both the couple. Although I like this order of events – again I don’t want to rely on the use of photographs to this extend and want to use the environment instead.


Lastly, this storyboards begins by looking behind the scene – we then rotate around the sofa and see that their is a walking stick – indicating the age of the user of the chair. We see a side table with a book which pages are turning against the wind – and a photograph (which isn’t focus upon) of a couple in the 40s. We then see a wide shot of the entire room to create the impact of the amount of plants, We see a close up of the draw with plants hanging out where it is overgrown and unkempt. A small flowerpot sits on the sofa and we watch as the light crosses the sofa and two small plants come out from under the soil – I feel that this storyboard is slightly all over the place and doesn’t really have a good structure. Its a bit all over the place – although there are shots that I do like such as the scene behind the sofa and the plants growing from under the soil as we focus on it.


The second idea, shows a fort / den which has been created by a child. The child uses it as a sanctuary to escape from their lives and to think about their ambition. When it rain the child leaves the fort in the rain. We see a very storm sky and the fort all alone. As we enter the fort it changes into the imagination of the child – filled with objects which connects with the dreams of that child. The wind then picks up the umbrella and destroys the fort all together – tearing the fort’s magical interior apart and bringing it back to reality.



I have also created the same six storyboards for my second idea to explore the different ways that this concept could be told. When creating the storyboards for this concept I found it difficult to come up with quite a few ideas and so some are very similar – I’m leaning more towards the other concept. Below you can see the enlarged version for each of these individual storyboards. 



We start this concept from inside the umbrella, we then look up to the seams of the structure which has been made – when we track back down to the original spot we see a giant structure which houses drapes fabrics and lots of objects that are important to the child which built the fort. The next shot shows the fabric (that is draped over the umbrella sweep over the structure) covers the interior and we pan backwards to see the umbrella fort – the wind then catches the fabric and the umbrella which flies backwards out of site and destroying the setting. Although this storyboard technically works, im not that I want to start inside the fort – I want the reverse to show the comfort which is found within a dark place.


The first scene starts from the house (where the child lives) and in the background we can see the den far off in the distance – we then cit to the den (which may be made of two umbrellas) and we get swept underneath the fabric – we see the roof which is the hard stricture of the umbrella and then we are presented a magical interior. The seams are evident however  – the umbrella is then flown away. I like the way that this storyboard eases into the fort changing – it seems a lot smoother. However I don’t want to have the house as the focus in the first shot – but perhaps in the distance in another which will give the same influence.

9I like the composition of this first frame – we start of with a look at the den from a far – as we get closer we just see a normal interior to such a den  – then the wind blows the fabric over the umbrella and we are pulled inside of the interior which houses a large area dedicated to a child’s ambitions – however the umbrella gets caught in the wind and the structure destroyed – pulling apart the interior. I really like the first four frames but I didn’t really have a middle section as I need to decide on an interior to play with.


We start of from afar at the house and then move across the screen until we see the den – it patched up and deserted in the rainy landscape. The wind then pulls the blanket over the umbrella capturing the camera in to and we are pulled into the magical world that the child visits when feeling alone. Not as developed this idea – but this alternative ending is a lot more happier and will mean less time animating an umbrella and fabric being blown over like my other variations of this idea.

11We begin with a wide shot of house and then (like the storyboard before) pan to right to show the den – the camera then zooms into the umbrella fort which will house the magical room (interior based of the hexagon structure of an umbrella) the ind then captures the umbrella and forces the fabric too drop. Similar notes to the previous storyboard – maybe end the story on the interior.


Lastly this den is held along some sting – we immediately are swept into the interior of the umbrella, we see a magical  world encased within an umbrella structure. The wind then sweeps the fort away – not much narrative / quite basic. I need to develop the center of this storyboard.

Exploring different looks for Ideas


 Above, I have created several floor plans of the conservatory (and their contents.) I had quite alot of trouble deciding on which shape the conservatory should be. Should it be a complex Victorian style or a simple and small garden conservatory. Furthermore this exercise enabled me to plan out different ways of laying the flowerpots inside / and other features – where should the sofa be in the room / where would I be able to get the best light and view of the room with camera angles in Maya. And how could i fit the content in different size rooms. Next to this page, is a moodboard of different conservatory interiors which I gathered as research and to get a better understanding of the structure.

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The two pages from above are the sketches that I made from other photos of conservatories. I created these to understand how I could capture the conservatory / the different angles and also to decide how I want to make my conservatory. I really liked this exercise because it meant I could consider small details which I may have overlooked otherwise – such as the shape of the windows / the details on the window glass / the layout of the room and the variety of conservatories. Do I want to make a unique interior and structure that will be different then the normal – or follow the structures like above. From these sketches I was able to explore these questions and identify elements I will use in my final concept.




Just like the first idea, i also created several sketches from children’s dens for my second idea. For this idea I would create two environments. One would be the exterior of the child’s den and the second the interior. I want the inside to signify the imagination of the child – therefore large and magical. The exterior should look homemade and inviting. Above I made some drawings – this was a really big help as I was able to explore the many forts that have been created – and what I would need to model if I am t choose this idea. For instance lots of fabric is used to create the main structure (therefore I would need to learn how to use / create fabric within Maya.) I looked at the inside of these forts (which were often very colourful, small and confined) I also looked at rooms so I could understand how I could combine these two together.




From very early stages in this idea I knew that I wanted to use an umbrella as the main structure of my ‘den’.  This is so that the fort will blow away when the umbrella catches wind — also because it is supposed to be created from house objects (made by a small child.) Above are sketches I created after exploring  the different forts. I also have looked at some composition in the above page. I want to include the small house in the corner to show that the fort has been left by the inhabitants of that home. Inside the fort I want to place objects that will tell information about the creator.

Developing the ideas



(Re-typed :

Concept 1 –> ‘Overgrown Past’

The story will center around a conservatory / room that has been taken over completely with overgrown plants. A couple have planted these when their child leaves. They take care of the plants as a hobby in their old age. The Husband dies and the wife is unable to attend completely to the plants – and so they slowly grow out of control. However she returns to remember the precious times that they shared together. – When she passes away the home is left alone to grow even more out of control. The footage will begin looking into the room, onto the pieces, old flower pots knocked over. Dark lighting, scattered leaves from a broken / open window. Elements that a old lady / couple used to live here. Picture on the wall, books, flowerpots maybe named after them. 

Concept 2 –> ‘Childhood Imagination’ 

The second is a child’s den. We shall see the den from afar. It is a basic den full of fabrics over a umbrella. As we look inside of the den it changes to show the interior of the den to the child’s imagination who created it – in a tardis / Harry Potter style (showing cracks) growing up and finally the den is blown away and scattered all over the grassy garden / and representing adulthood. )

In the end I have decided to pick only two ideas. This way I can focus on these and develop them further. The two descriptions are my initial ideas written down (Above). These are my favourite ideas and I feel that they have the strongest narrative. I hope to develop them further throughout this process.



Above I have written down three ideas – at this time these were my three final concepts (however as you have read, I decided to only use two because the third was weak and was more just a visual idea and not a narrative.) On this page I have also drawn ideas and compositions for the remaining two ideas. I may even decide to use in the final storyboard.


The many thumbnails above are for one idea. There are 9 different storyboards for telling the narrative for the conservatory idea (many plants taking over the space.) I wanted to create this so early on to ensure that I had a strong narrative for this concept – and just to get across my idea for myself. I have also doodled some other ideas such as a chair that has plants growing out from within it. And different items that may be found in the room – and to explain who these people are. I have some stills from other ideas in the top right corner also.


This last image shows the many different thumbnail storyboards that I created from 16 of my favourite ideas that I came up in my idea generation. By putting these ideas into the storyboard form it meant that I had to create a story which let me develop to otherwise simple concepts for an environment. By creating these storyboards I had to think about how the environment can tell a story – which is a large part of this brief. From this I will select my favourite / best narratives. When creating some of these ideas I really struggled to give it a concept that would work well and so I will leave it behind.


Early Idea Generation



At the beginning of this unit i decided to begin generating ideas through the process above. I made three mind maps; for environments, characters and Props and picked out random one from each and created separate ideas. It was a really run exercise and I was able to come up with way over 50 ideas (which you can see below). I was also able to come up with plenty of ideas that were absolute rubbish – but because of the amount I created i also have several that I really like.







After creating all the ideas from the mind map method – I then made a brainstorm – just encase there was any other ideas which I could think of.