Story Telling 113 at Monsters University
I was recently very fortunate to return to college, a very special college, Monsters University! While there I was able to take several classes with some amazing blogger friends where we learned all about being a part of the making of Monsters University. In this session we were able to meet with Kelsey Mann, the Story Supervisor for Monsters University.
Monsters University took approximately 4-5 years years to create. Just imagine if we didn’t have the technology available to us now to create all these wonderful adventures how long it would take! In Story Telling 113 we learned a great deal about the writing and story development process and I found that the process for movies, isn’t much different from the process I often have to work through as a writer, blogger and columnist.
Let’s talk writers block . . .
Kelsey Mann shares, that everyone gets writers block, even the team of writers at Pixar Animation Studios. Some of the ways they banish the block includes getting up and getting out, playing soccer on the field, taking a swim or walking the trails around the studios. Other tips for banishing the block include drawing on paper, scribbling whatever comes to mind and brainstorming. These tips sound good to me and the next time your children have trouble and can’t think of anything to write for their report or paragraph why not try it. It could be a whole lot more effective than sitting at the table with their chin in their hand staring into space.
The story development process
As the process to create the story continues writers use notecards to help them with the scenes, going from broad “strokes” or ideas and then getting into the details of the story. Sometimes details can drag you down, so start with the big picture. Collaboration and working as a team is essential, so don’t think that writing stories for Pixar is just sitting in your office tapping away at your computer.
The script is developed and thumbnails and sketches are used to continue the process. At this point the story artist is party writer, editor, actor, animator and cinematographer. They get a chance to sort of “act” out the scenes as well as watch how they would appear on screen.
Next up, create a blueprint of the story that now everyone must follow. The blueprint in the “biz” is called story reels.
What was most fascinating to me was the photoshop tools and programs they could use to animate their drawings to get an idea of how things would pan out once in action.
So, how do you know what story lines work? Now the real team work comes into play. Artists will “pitch” the scene to each other acting it out with drawings, sound effects and dialogue. There are some rules to pitching including:
(1) Don’t interrupt a pitch.
(2) Clap at the end of the pitch.
Notes are made and compared and then it’s back to the storyboard to create the final product.
So, what does this have to do with us parents? Here’s what I took away from it. My daughters LOVE to create their own stories. They have journals and diaries. They create stories and then act them out taking turns recording them. They also take dolls and toys and act them out. Who knows maybe some day they will be doing this for a living. But what I really realized from this adventure is how important it is to encourage creativity at every level for my girls. I also realized how important it is that I teach them teamwork, and manners because those are talents that they also need to develop to be successful no matter what career they may decide to pursue.
Now for the fun part! My final exam in Story Telling 113. I got to try my hand at drawing Mike W. I enjoyed it so much I came home and challenged the kids to do their own drawings. Can you tell which one is mine and which are theirs?
Disclosure: This content is made available through my all expense paid campus visit to Monsters University at the Pixar Animation Studios.