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Storyboard Testing

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Storyboard Testing

This has obviously been a sore subject in the industry for some time.  There is plenty of abuse on the side of the employers with regard to the length and material submitted in tests these days.  However, there is a strong argument made by the employers who claim they're only trying to make sure the artist can "draw in the style of the show".

I'd like to hear your experiences and thoughts on Storyboard Testing.  Its a subject we'll once again bring to the producers in 2015 and the more we have from the community, the better armed we'll be.

Steve Kaplan's picture
--------------------------------------------- Steve Kaplan The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE

Steve Kaplan
The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE

I will not do tests.

I will not do tests.
My years of experience, and my samples ( and the variety of samples I have) can demonstrate I can either do the work to the needs of the client, or I can't.
If the person they have reviewing the submissions can't determine an artist can do the work from the samples provided......well, c'mon, it's not hard.

My only exception ( for new clients) is if the "test" has compensation attached. $100 a script page, or page portion, or something like that.
Since only candidates that pass the initial screening will actually get tests, the cost of this kind of thing wouldn't be too much.  And the length of the test should be limited: no more than a script page--ever. Again, if the qualifications of a 'board artist cannot be gleaned from 20-30 'board pages, then there is something wrong with the review process.......or processor.

"Drawing in the style of the show" is pretty vague too........does it mean being on model? Or sticking to a certain kind of staging, or shot selection?  Storyboarding isn't layout--despite the chronic slide into merging the two jobs into one ( and paying for only one!).
'Boards don't NEED to be on-model per se, because  layout  or builds that follow have model as their responsibility.  Cinematic style is something that comes from directioral guidance, not mind-reading.  If there's footage in the can, it can give the best example of how the show is to be "styled" in terms of animation.  A 30 second clip is all a good 'board artist would need to reverse-engineer the staging, pacing, and acting a show calls for.  Pose-heavy 'boarding is standard these a lot of expressions and gestures is normal.....personally, I'm okay with that because I understand it supplies control. But getting fussy about whether those posed characters are all on-model..........pffft...that makes the workload excessive.

I've found that, based on ancedotes from colleagues that tests are often abused. Work done UNPAID for tests, is ending up on screen.....and in many cases the tests are try-outs that didn't pan out. The 'board artist(s) DOESN'T get the job.............yet their test is suitable enough to go through production and be broadcast.  That is fraudulent and criminal.
I get the apprehension of producers screening talent with little experience in storyboarding.  There's a lot of newcomers and a lot of head-strong beginner 'board artists out there. Some have the chops for the work, some don't.
 I question why a 'board artist of 20+ years experience would have to do a test, because certainly that length of time at the drawing table would SUGGEST that artist have covered many different styles and storytelling problems.
The added problem to all this that even if a skilled 'board artist gets hired on, a indecisive director can still make a hash of a 'board and call for excessive changes.
I've done 'boards for clients where the director "didn't know what he wanted" and called for almost 100% changes........the changes would be implemented on the current and following 'boards......and then the directors would make the SAME calls on the second board---even though the style demands were adhered to!
 In such a case,  it doesn't matter what the experience level is of the 'board artist.........only their reservoirs of patience. The 'board artist then would be little more than a hired wrist.......and who would need to test for that??

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)