21
Feb
10

My First Storyboard

Film’s been an interest of mine since I read a preview article on Star Wars back in 1977. I got involved with a schoolmate who also had an interest in film, and together we made a bunch of bad 8mm mini-epics like “Attack of the Killer Basketball” and the stop motion “Adventures of Mr. Blue”. But the costs of making films on film were high, given that film was expensive and lab costs added to it. So, I gravitated away from filmmaking and focused on writing: taking stories I wanted to make movies and writing them, first as scripts, then novels which I never published.

One other thing I was interested in was animation, and, while the details are fuzzy decades on, I recall being quite taken with Warner Bros. cartoons in High School, and going out to see animated films like American Pop, Heavy Metal, and the like.

In 1982 I made friends with a guy named Vince, who was a self-styled artist of sorts. He hold me he had this idea of doing an animation to the Rush song Cygnus X-1, and showed me a few drawings he’d done of a spaceship and these trippy 60s-poster-esque “laser rocker” characters. I was quite taken by the idea (and was too naive to realize the licensing rights issues), and got involved with it. Essentially, I took over the idea and drew out a fairly extensive storyboard for this proposed animated music epic. It remains the largest storyboard I’ve ever drawn, and consisted of probably hundreds of panels, only a percentage of which I still have (foolish me).

© 1983 Maurice Molyneaux

At some point I actually started to calculate how much it would cost to make this epic, and, film negative costs aside, it was staggering to see how much acetate animation cels alone would cost (we’re talking something like 7,400 frames if we shot “on twos”, and many shots would require multiple cel layers, so I we’re talking probably 20,000 acetate sheets).

© 1983 Maurice Molyneaux

Then there was the issue of actually animating the thing. Neither my friend or I had ever done animation. The idea of drawing and then painting 20,000 cels plus backgrounds was staggering. In my enthusiasm, my reach escaped my grasp. This wouldn’t be the first time this happened to me in the 80s.

So, the storyboard got shelved and I went on to other things. But the animation bug had bitten me, even if I hadn’t actually animated anything yet. It wouldn’t be long until technology would come to rescue and allow me to try my hand at making things move without the costs of cels and film.

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