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Teaching storyboarding from Roadrunner cartoons

One of the things that the Art Institute of Phoenix students learn is how to make a storyboard. Nowadays most people know what a storyboard is, it's a simple combination of visuals and text that tells what the final animation will be about. It's one of those *behind the scenes* things that often surprises people. And when I thought about teaching visual storytelling, I chose Roadrunner cartoons. It turns out to be a lot more difficult than most people imagine, but if you want to try it yourself, this is how:

• Watch a Roadrunner cartoon. Of course, they're funny, even to people who have never seen them before. And I would start the process of changing the people in the class from a passive audience, just laughing, to animators who could create that thing of thing for themselves.

• Try to remember what you just saw. The vast majority of my students, at least in the beginning, had no idea. Their answers were generalized - the coyote chased the roadrunner, things blew up. And then I would ask them to watch it again, and this time take notes.

• Sketch out the visual story. Remember that the roadrunner cartoons always had a series of interesting stories, but never a word. There were a lot of limitations which had to be accommodated, especially the fact that there was no way to tell the story except visually.

Once you understand how to tell a story visually, the rest is detail. The actual animation, the colors, the number of clouds in the sky. And if you can be a visual storyteller, you can do more than make cartoons, you can make movies. Welcome to the world of movie-making!