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Storyreels bring together character development, story structure, visual language, film grammar, storyboarding, and pitching. Editors craft performances by timing storyboards with sound, dialogue, and music. Collaboration between story artists and editors refines the storyreel, ensuring it conveys emotion and engages the audience.

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Video transcript

(upbeat jingle) - Once a pitch of the scene has been approved by the director, it moves out of the story department and into editorial. Editors take the storyboards, add recorded dialogue, sound effects, and music to create a story reel, which is a rough draft of the film in video form. As an example, here's a short clip of a story reel from Inside Out. - First day of school, very, very exciting. I was up late last night figuring out a new plan. Here it is. Fear. - Huh! - I need a list of all the possible negative outcomes on the first day at a new school. - Way ahead of you there. Does anyone know how to spell meteor? - Disgust, make sure Riley stands out today but also blends in. - The story reel is the very first version of the final film. This is where everything we've talked about during this season at Pixar in a Box comes together, character development, story structure, visual language, film grammar, storyboarding, and pitching. Piecing and timing are particularly important in the reel, that is how long to hold on to each storyboard, how the dialogue should support the visuals, and how the mood and rhythm of the music and sound effects adds to the emotional impact. Although animation is visual storytelling, as we'll hear in a second, you might be surprised by how big a role sound plays. - When I have the boards for the first time for a sequence, I have to start building out all the sound that goes with it. Until you add the sound and you time out the boards, it's just drawings, you know, and the sound and the dialogue and the timing of the boards are what bring it to life and make it feel like a movie. - When I have my storyboards and I'm starting to edit a sequence, depending on what type of scene it is, I often start with the dialogue, and I time that out, and then I add the storyboards on top of that, and I time them out so that they work well with the dialogue, and once I feel that the storyboards and the dialogue are working well, I begin to add sound effects. (knocking) Once I have the sound effects working, I play that back. I look at it, and if that feels good, then I start to think about adding music. (chiming) - So that you can time out the scene and you can feel what it's like for these characters to talk to each other so we can emulate what the movie-going experience is so that we can sit back and watch the entire movie as it is and decide whether this is the movie that we want to make, you know, and we do that about eight or nine times of the entire movie before we even start animating anything. - When all of this is working well together, after the first few minutes, you forget that you're watching drawings. You just get caught up in the story. That's what we're shooting for, but it takes a lot of iteration to get the story just right in story reel form, and this requires a lot of collaboration between story artists and editors. So let's hear a little more about that relationship. - So you've pitched your sequence, and everyone fell out of their chairs laughing, and the director says, "Down to editorial with it," and so all your drawings are either scanned or sent down to editorial where they're edited and music is placed and temporary dialogue is placed on them, and then you all sit around anticipating a great sequence, and you watch it, and it dies, and it flat lines, and you ask yourself why it was so funny before. - It looks and feels completely different than the version that you pitched, and you wonder what happened. - We make a joke about it now, but there was a while where you go like, "What happened? "It Was so funny over in story. "How come it's not funny anymore?" - And it's really hard to say, but moving something in, it's like a different media. You're up acting and performing to something that you're just passively watching. - And sometimes it's just timing, too. Like, a drawing could be really, really funny when you linger on it, but if you cut away from it by just a millisecond or you linger on it for too long, then the comedy of it kind of dies a little bit. - The reason that we have screenings, that we look at the movie in context every once in a while, whatever 12 to 16 weeks, is to test whether the pitch is funny or entertaining or heartfelt because the person who's pitching it is funny, entertaining, or heartfelt, or is it truly a great idea that really conveys emotion to the person who's gonna be watching it in the theaters eventually. - You can see that many elements of storytelling and filmmaking come together in the story reel. In fact, editorial is always responsible for the latest version of the movie. You might say they are the keepers of the cut. One question I've always had is how editors work with directors. - I had my first director review with Andrew Stanton, and I played him back the scene, and he then told me this really kind of great piece of advice, which was he said, "As an animation editor, "before you can even start editing the scene, "you have to craft the performance." The performance is the timing of the storyboard juxtaposed with the sound that the character is making, whether it's a sound effect like WALL-E had or a line of dialogue like Dory would have, and you have to empathize with what the character is thinking and what they are going through in that particular moment to be able to understand what their point of view is and why are they making the decisions they're making at that particular moment. So you do that first, right, and then you can really start evaluating the scene, and so I took another pass at the sequence and showed it to him the next day. It was a huge improvement because I finally understood what my job was, and I still am using that knowledge every day when I approach a scene. - Now that you have a sense of how story reels work, it's your turn to create a story reel of a sequence from your own film. To do this, you don't need fancy editing software. Freely available editing packages, some of which are on Smartphones, are enough, and that brings us to the end of this season of Pixar in a Box on storytelling. Everyone has important stories to tell. We hope you now feel like you have the tools to find your own unique storytelling voice. Take a look at the next exercise. Then be sure to check out the last video in this lesson for a special treat.