"The Tale of Perdita" story reel
July 18, 2008 11:04 AM   Subscribe

"The Tale of Perdita" story reel
I am creating a short CG animated film and I'm at the stage where some outside feedback would be really helpful. Animated films get put together in an odd way - before any actual "animation" happens the entire movie gets put together as a story reel, or animatic. At this point all the story beats and timings are fleshed out before the production continues. I'm almost ready to push my film ahead but I thought I'd see if any MeFites would care to comment on the story, at this early stage. Thanks!

The film will be machinima, rendered in Valve's Source engine. The Orange Box SDX stuff is starting to come online and I'm so happy about that, I love the way Team Fortress 2 looks. The story is based on "Perdita's Story" from ilovebees.
posted by shino-boy (2 comments total)

I'd like to read the original story to see what the author was aiming for. I'd also like to ask you what you're hoping to have the viewer feel, experience and keep in mind even after the film is finished.

I hate being brutally honest at this stage of a project because I have a good understanding of how difficult animation projects are to make, but here goes...

The Story

I got bored of the story. I'm not saying you need something unique to tell, just tell it well. Perdita should've kept my interest, but she didn't. I had no reason to care if she got out of her predicament or not because she didn't make me care. Maybe her beauty and vanity have an important role in the story, but the story progression gave me the impression that if the narrator hadn't mentioned her vanity or beauty, I wouldn't have noticed it at all.

I say stick to the script and work, work, and rework until you have something you totally LOVE. You must be convinced that the story couldn't be told in any other way besides YOUR WAY, because it's the best way, and that you'd be hard pressed to find someone who'd tell it better. Bottom line: have FUN with it. It's a lot of work, but you have to view script-writing like cooking: experiment till you squirm with delight at the taste of your creation.

Also, stick to believability. Don't confuse believability for realism. A transformer can run through a wall, and so can bugs bunny, but only bugs can leave a hole behind shaped just like him. The story was not told in a poetic structure, so I don't believe Perdita would call out for her brother by yelling "brother!". Nobody does that (unless you're a monk). I could imagine her, however, standing there wide-eyed and shaken to see what would emerge from behind the garbage can (the mechanical rat). If you want people to understand her actions, make use of the narrator. Have her walk nonchalantly towards the rat while people squirm going "WHY THE HELL IS SHE WALKING TOWARDS IT??! DOESN"T SHE SEE IT?!?!" Then have the narrator explain that she believes it's only her mischievous brother. Get creative with the story telling, make her actions and decisions compelling. Put her in situations where it tests her limits (and ours).

Story is #1 and should not be taken lightly.

Voice Acting

I'll give you credit for the good voice acting, though. I'd change the narrator to something else, since the woman sounds like a video instructor and not a storyteller, but the voice for Perdita was good overall and believable. I think her acting will be an excellent instrument to use for future projects and is capable of taking on good roles.


THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for not taking advantage of CGI and doing what everybody else does; overdoing it with camera angles, strange zoom/blur effects, overuse of slow motion a-la-matrix, etc. Keep it simple, and don't use anything that will confuse the viewer from understanding the story. I'll admit, the shots chosen for the animatic were a little boring but definitely better than going for pretentiousness.

Valve has a sophisticated engine that renders in real time, so make the most of its features and only if they enhance the story. Stanley Kubrick was never happy with the technological limits of his equipment, but he took them to their limits and was only satisfied if they brought to life the story that he already laid out in his mind. Strive for that perfection. When you establish a shot that takes us out of our own minds and into the mind of your character, you've done your job.

Character Design

I didn't particularly find the girl beautiful. I know, I know, it's only an animatic, but that's no excuse for things and she needs to be reworked. At least add some other little girls walking around so we can compare her and go "wow, she's prettier than they are... I guess she's beautiful." But that would be the uncreative, duct-tape approach. Approach www.deviantart.com for inspiration, and steer clear from the "pretty little dress" approach, it's been overdone to death.

For example, give her very beautiful hair and eyes and a very innocent look. She's not happy yet not sad, just observant and curious. Now, when she catches a glance at herself and a HUGE grin grows on her face, we will see her vanity; a glimpse of her true self. Then when she turns away, her grin quickly disappears. That's more like vanity.

Other Thoughts...

As for the timing, I think the pace was a little slow. Step it up a bit, remove bits you felt were "boring but necessary". In fact, if they're truly necessary, rework them or take them out and see if the story works without them. If you still have a few boring parts, rework the script.

I applaud your efforts, however, since animation is no easy task and neither is storytelling, but I find it one of the finest works of art in existence. Keep working on this project and good luck to you. Keep me updated as well, I want to see how this goes!
posted by Zeker at 12:48 PM on July 22, 2008

I appreciate your comments, Zeker. You've touched on a few points that I've been thinking about and I've already got a bunch of changes in the works.
posted by shino-boy at 9:59 AM on July 28, 2008

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