One Storyboard – Three Stories // Ewa Oberska

A synopsis of each of the three stories:

Story 1: John falls in love with Jane, but she does not reciprocate. She rejects him, which makes John feel down. Jane notices Alvaro, a well-built muscular man that she immediately feels attracted to however, it turns out that Alvaro already had multiple girlfriends. Jane feels sad that she fell for Alvaro’s ‘looks’, but rejected John who could have possibly been a much better boyfriend. John lives his life, and while walking down a street, Alvaro attacks him. John gets knocked out by Alvaro. Jane and John get together. She feels bad for rejecting initially John, and feels even worse because Alvaro beat him up. The two fall in love and become a happy, loving couple.

Story 2: John is bored with his life. One day, he sees Jane and immediately falls in love with her. She reciprocates his feelings and they become a couple. However, then she notices Alvaro – a much stronger and ‘manlier’ man than John and rejects her current boyfriend. After breaking up with John, she sees that in fact Alvaro has multiple girlfriends. She is depressed, realizes she was never going to be ‘the one’ for Alvaro. John cannot let it go that Alvaro hurt Jane so badly, the two men get into a fight, but Alvaro wins. John walks away from both Jane and Alvaro. Life goes on.

Story 3: One day, as John is walking down a street, having a wonderful relationship with his loving girlfriend, he runs into Alvaro. Alvaro attacks him and knocks John out. Jane – John’s girlfriend, sees how strong Alvaro is, and how easily he defeated John. Jane immediately falls in love with Alvaro and his strength and rejects John. John does not want to let her go, but there is nothing he can do. he becomes depressed as his girlfriend just left him. Suddenly, it turns out that Alvaro has already four other girlfriends, and that he never really wanted Jane. Jane realizes that she got rid of the one man, who cared about her, and the one she left John for, never cares for her or reciprocated her feelings.

A brief background description: what is the setting, who are the characters:

There are three main characters in the stories: Jane, John and Alvaro. In the stories, there is purposefully no background so that we can focus on the body language and expressions of the characters. Moreover, for the same reason I also avoided giving my characters any facial expressions.

STORY 1

pdf: story-1-board1

STORY 2

pdf: story-2-board

STORY 3

pdf: story-3-board

Reflections on choices made about the visual elements and their composition. How did these choices contribute to the flexibility (pliability) of a panel? Did some panels present difficulties and how were those difficulties overcome?

Even though I avoided giving my characters facial expressions, I did add some extra elements to some of my scenes in order to make sure that the emotions are easily understandable by my audience. For instance, the hearts around John when he 1) Sees Jane and falls in love with her, or when 2) Jane walks away and he’s still in love (depending on the story and context); or the little stars around John’s head after he gets defeated.

I definitely faced some difficulties with creating the second storyline, let alone the third one. After making two different stories, it was quite challenging to think straight and come up with a third one that would be different than the first two, as my mind was already set on the stories I had made. What really helped was the feedback that I got from my residents and letting them play around with my cards. It turned out, they came up with countless stories that I had not thought of previously. I did not use any of them, as their priority was to have fun making the stories, and mine was to make clear stories that made sense. However, they did inspire me and helped come up with that third story.

The difficulty that I also had was that in most stories that I would come up with, I either lacked a specific panel or adding the last panel simply did not make sense. What I did in order to tackle that problem was that I created multiple extra panels that I could choose from.

I also noticed that multiple of my panels at the time were very hard to be understood in different ways which led me to changing them and making them more generic, so that the audience could understand them according to the context that they had. For instance, in the panel where John in waving at Jane, if I added a happy facial expression (which is the case in 2 stories), my audience would not be able to understand that in the third story, he is actually waving at her as she is walking away (why would he be happy then?).

Reflections on how panels changed meaning according to their context:

Because of the different stories and contexts in them, most of my panels can be understood completely differently, depending on the story they appear in. For instance: one of the simplest panels, which shows John walking, can be understood as him just walking (and then, for example, running into Jane or Alvaro), or it can also be understood as ‘walking away’, as in Story 2, where he got rejected by a girl, fought for her ‘honor’, and got defeated.

Another example – the panel where Jane is stopping John from kissing her: depending on the story it appears in, she has different reasons. Jane either rejects John because 1) she is simply not attracted to him, 2) she saw Alvaro and thinks she likes him more than John, 3) she saw how Alvaro beat up John and wants to be with the stronger one, not to ‘loser’.

Another example, mentioned previously multiple times, is the panel where John is waving at Jane. In two stories, he sees her, falls in love and waves at her. However, in the remaining one, he is waving at her as she walks away and he is trying to stop her.

Interactive Storytelling Project 2: Bear and Cat (Krom)

The following link contains a pdf of the three stories.

Interactive-Storytelling-Project2-final

A synopsis of each of the three stories.

1) The cat observes the house from a distance. It then follows the bear who is headed to the lake. The cat follows the bear under the cover of the bushes, seemingly unnoticed by the bear. The bear unpacks his fishing equipment by the lake and proceeds to fish, under the watchful eyes of the cat. The cat then follows the bear back to his house, where the cat goes up to the bear and they meet for the first time. The bear opens the door, inviting the cat into his house, and the story ends with both characters inside the bear’s home.

2) The story begins with the bear packing up his fishing equipment by the lake. He moves to another spot of the lake and begins to fish there, attracting the attention of a cat. The cat then begins to follow the bear to his home. The bear notices the cat when he reaches his house, but seems disturbed by the cat’s presence and shoos the cat away from following him into his house. The story ends with the bear inside his own house and the cat watching the house forlornly from a distance. The cat eventually leaves its spot from watching the house.

3) The bear and the cat initially live together in the house. However, the bear dismisses the cat from his house. The bear then goes to the lake and unpacks his fishing gear. When he begins to fish, the cat watches him secretly from behind a nearby bush. The cat follows the bear secretly all the way back to the bear’s house. The bear goes into his home and the cat watches the house forlornly from a distance.

A brief background description: what is the setting, who are the characters.

The story roves between the area surrounding the bear’s house, the nearby lake, and the path in between the two locations. One constant throughout the various locations are the bushes that occur throughout. The characters are the bear and the cat. The bear is an anthropomorphic character, wearing clothes, owning a house, and going fishing. The cat is an animal character, wearing no clothes, walking on all four paws, and desiring to be received into a home.

A brief “panel description” for each panel.

(These should be brief, and describe in neutral, literal terms what is happening in the panel)

The boards are numbered in accordance to their order as listed in the first story.

*background

1) The cat is in a sitting position on the grass. There is a pink house in the bg*. The cat is facing the pink house. The cat is sitting at a distance away from the pink house. There are hedges lined up on either side of the pink house. The cat and the house are in the lower middle and center of the board, respectively.

2) The cat is on the lower left portion of the board. The cat is in a crouching position. The cat is behind the hedges. The cat is looking at the bear. The cat has a neutral expression. The bear is on the right portion of the board (upper, middle, and lower). The bear is holding a basket in one hand. The bear is in a walking position. The bear is in front of the hedges. The bear has a neutral expression.

3) The bear is in front of the hedges. The bear is in a walking position. The bear is in the center of the board (upper middle, center, and lower middle). The bear is holding a basket in one hand. The bear is holding a fishing rod in the other hand. The bear has a neutral expression.

4) The bear is squatting in front of a lake. The bear’s hands are hovering over his basket. The bear is in the center and right middle portions of the frame. The fishing rod is on the grass next to the bear and is positioned in front of him. There are two hedges in the bg. The bear has a neutral expression.

5) The bear is standing in front of the lake. The bear’s hands are holding onto the fishing rod. The fishing rod’s fishing line ends in the lake. The bear is standing next to his basket. There are two hedges in the bg. The cat is in a crouching position beneath the hedges. The cat is looking at the bear. The bear is in the upper middle and center of the frame. The cat is in the left middle of the frame. The cat and the bear have neutral expressions.

6) The bear is in a walking position. The bear is holding a basket in one hand. The bear is holding a fishing rod in the other hand. The bear is in the center of the frame. The cat is in the lower left portion of the frame. The cat is facing the bear. There is a pink house in the bg. There are hedges lined up on either side of the pink house. The bear has a neutral expression.

7) The bear is in a standing position. The bear is holding a basket in one hand. The bear is holding a fishing rod in the other hand. The bear is facing the cat. The bear has a troubled expression on his face. The bear is in the center of the frame. The cat is in a sitting position. The cat is facing the bear. The cat is in the left middle and center of the frame. There is a pink house in the bg. There are hedges lined up on either side of the pink house.

8) The bear is in a standing position, leaning out from the door of the pink house. The bear is half hidden by the door. The bear is looking at the cat. The bear has a neutral expression. The cat is in the sitting position, just outside of the house door. The cat is facing the bear. There are hedges lining up on either side of the pink house.

9) There is a pink house. There are hedges lining up on either side of the pink house. The cat and the bear are not in the frame.

A brief “context description” for each panel based on what it adds to the storyline.

Story 1

1) The cat is sitting at a distance in front of the pink house, gazing at it longingly. There are hedges lined up on either side of the pink house in the bg.

2) The cat is crouching under the hedges, watching the bear. The bear is walking in front of the hedges, holding a basket in one hand. The bear does not appear to notice the cat.

3) The bear is walking in front of the hedges, with a basket in one hand and a fishing rod in the other.

4) The bear is squatting in front of the lake. He has set his fishing rod down on the grass and is unpacking his fishing gear from his basket. He appears to be looking into the lake. There are hedges in the bg.

5) The bear is standing by the lake, fishing with his fishing pole. The bear’s basket is set down beside him on the grass. The cat is crouched under the hedges watching the bear. The bear appear to be looking into the lake.

6) The bear is walking toward his pink house. He has his fishing rod in one hand and the basket in the other hand. The cat observes from a distance, facing the house.

7) The bear turns around from his walk toward the house. He still has his fishing rod in one hand and the basket in the other. He has a sympathetic look on his face as he looks at the cat. The cat has approached him, and sits gazing up at him.

8) The bear has stepped into his pink house, and is leaning out from the open door. He is looking at the cat. The cat is still sitting and looking at the bear. The hedges are in the bg.

9) The bear and the cat are in the house together, and are not seen in this frame. The pink house and the hedges are still in the bg of the frame.

Story 2

1) The bear is squatting by the lake and packing up his fishing gear into the basket. His fishing rod is set down in the grass in front of him. There are hedges in the bg.

2) The bear is walking away from the spot of the lake he was at in the previous frame, basket and fishing rod in either hand. The hedges are in the bg.

3) The bear is standing in front of a different spot of the lake, fishing. His basket is in the grass next to him. The cat is crouching under the hedges watching the bear fishing. The cat is unnoticed by the bear.

4) The bear is walking along the path lined by hedges. He is holding his basket. The cat is crouching under the hedges and looking at the bear, seemingly following him. The bear does not seem to notice the cat.

5) The bear is walking back toward his pink house, lined on either side with hedges. The bear has his fishing rod in one hand and the basket in the other. The cat is standing on four paws at a distance from the house, facing the bear.

6) The cat has approached the bear and is sitting near him, looking at him. The bear has stopped and turned around from his walk to his house. The bear is looking at the cat with a worried look on his face. The bear is still holding the basket in one hand and the fishing rod in the other. There are still hedges lined up on either side of the pink house.

7) The bear has gone half way into the pink house, with only his head peeking out from behind his front door. The bear is looking at the cat. The cat is sitting right at the front door, looking at the bear. There are still hedges lined up on either side of the pink house.

8) The bear has gone into the pink house and is no longer in the frame. The cat has retreated to a distance away from the house and sits, facing the house. There are still hedges lined up on either side of the pink house.

9) The cat has left the spot where it sat watching the house. Neither the bear nor the cat is in the frame. There are still hedges lined up on either side of the pink house.

Story 3

1) There is a pink house and hedges lined up on either side of it. There are no characters in the frame.

2) The front door of the pink house has opened and a bear is peeking out from it. A cat is sitting at the front door of the pink house and is facing the bear. The hedges are still lined up on either side of the house.

3) The bear has left the house and is standing at a distance away from the house with his fishing basket in one hand and a fishing rod in the other hand. The bear looks at the cat with a troubled expression on his face. The cat is sitting near the bear, looking at him. There are hedges lined on either side of the house.

4) The bear is walking along a path with his fishing rod in one hand and his basket in the other. He is walking a long a path lined with hedges.

5) The bear is squatting in front of a lake, unpacking his fishing equipment from his basket while his fishing rod lies in the grass in front of him. He is looking into the lake.

6) The bear is standing up and fishing at the lake. His basket is in the grass next to him. The cat is crouching under the hedges, watching the bear. The cat does not seem to be noticed by the bear.

7) The bear is walking away from the lake with his basket in hand. He is walking along a path lined with hedges. The cat is following him, crouched under the hedges, watching the bear. The bear does not seem to notice the cat.

8) The bear is walking toward his pink house, which is lined with hedges on either side. His fishing rod and basket are in either hand. The cat has followed him here, and is watching him at a distance, still seemingly unnoticed. The cat is facing the bear.

9) The cat sits and looks at the pink house from a distance. The bear is not in the frame, most likely having gone into the house. The pink house is lined with hedges.

Reflections on choices made about the visual elements and their composition. How did these choices contribute to the flexibility (pliability) of a panel? Did some panels present difficulties and how were those difficulties overcome?

My storyboards play out over a few different settings: the vicinity of the pink house, the lake, and the path between both. The very different settings meant that a lot of the storyboards could not be separated from each other; a problem I encountered when I play tested my story. To counteract that, I tried to make a constant between the three settings. This played out as the hedges lining every storyboard. In this manner, I would be able to break up the storyboard pairs a little, as I did in the second story by having the bear move about the lake to find a good fishing spot. I had initially encountered issues surrounding the direction in which the bear walks. I made the bear walk in one direction when he’s walking toward the house, but walking in another direction when at the lake. I thought it would imitate the nature of walking ‘there and back’, but it seemed more problematic and less flexible. Changing the bear to walking in just a single direction in all boards allowed for much more flexibility, and I was glad that play testers did not feel bothered by it when I had changed it. The neutral expressions for the most part was helpful in allowing users to decide what they believed the bear and the cat were thinking. The troubled look on the bear’s face was good in creating some emotion in the two characters meeting, although I still left this rather vague for flexibility.

Reflections on how panels changed meaning according to their context.

The boards have taken the form of very different storylines, ending in either the cat being welcomed into the house or being left out in the figurative cold. The intentions of the cat were mostly constant throughout the three stories, however the relationship between the cat and bear were the most drastically altered. In the first story, the bear first meets the cat and feels sympathy for it, thus accepting it into his home. The second story finds the bear disturbed by the cat he meets, walking back to his house while nervously checking for the cat behind him. He locks the cat out of the house. The final story featured the cat and bear having a relationship that began before the story played out, and one that eventually would still leave the cat outside. The troubled look in the bear and cat’s meeting has changed over the course of the three stories to mean sympathy, pity, or discomfort. The board with the bear squatting in front of his basket could mean either that he was packing up his fishing gear or just unpacking it, signifying either the start or the end of the fishing trip. The pathway in which the bear walks can either be toward the house, away from it, or even in between various spots of a certain location (such as the lake). I was happy and surprised to find out the number of possibilities my storyboard combinations could hold, something I never thought plausible when I began the project.

Interactive Storytelling| Asiya Gubaydullina| Project 2

A synopsis of each of the three stories.

  1. The first story talks about two cats. It starts with the first cat who is alone. Then he sees another lady cat approaching. He falls in love with her but the lady cat mentions/demands fish. That makes the boy cat upset, and they start arguing. After arguing the boy cat calms down but the girl cat is still mad. Therefore, she leaves him and he ends up with a broken heart.
  2. The second story is about two lovers going back and forth. It starts the girl cat arguing about the fish with the boy cat but he’s completely calm. They continue fighting and she leaves him. Later on, he is left all alone with a broken heart. Then the girl cat comes back and mentions fish again. This time, the boy cat likes the idea of fish and falls for the girl once again. The story end of both cats in love with each other.
  3. The third story starts with the cat all by himself. Then he sees the girl cat approaching. The girl cat is shouting something at him and he doesn’t understand why. They both start fighting up until the point when the girl mentions/demands fish. The boy cat is in love with this idea and they both fall in love. Then she mentions the fish again because she actually only wants fish. They argue once again and she leaves the boy cat all by himself.

A brief background description: what is the setting, who are the characters.

I wanted to keep the background clean so we only pay attention to the interaction between two cats. Therefore, the story doesn’t really have the background, so it’s up to interpretation. The characters are two cats. One pink girl cat and one blue boy cat. The interaction between the cats happens through the speech bubbles. There are no words but only symbols in the speech bubbles.

A brief “panel description” for each panel.

  1. shows the boy cat who is also the main character sitting all by himself. He is blue and has a neutral facial expression.
  2. shows the boy cat who is still by himself but gets some sort of idea. Three little strokes above his head signify either newly came idea or excitement. Depending on the shuffling of the boards you can interpret it differently.
  3. shows the boy cat with a question mark above his head wondering about the girl cat approaching. The girl cat is pink, she’s located further in the frame and has a neutral facial expression.
  4. shows the boy cat falling in love with the girl cat. The boy cat has heart eyes and a little heart above his head. The girl cat is sitting a lot closer to the boy cat. Her face holds a neutral expression.
  5. shows both cats in love with each other. They both have heart eyes. The girl cat is still smaller compared to the boy cat.
  6. shows girl cat asking for fish. Her facial expression is playful and she’s sticking out her tongue. The boy cat still has heart eyes, which means he’s still full of feelings.
  7. shows the girl asking for food again. He facial expression is playful and she’s sticking out her tongue. The boy cat gets mad that she only wants fish from him. He has negative symbols in the speech bubble. His facial expression is angry as his eyes demonstrate. The eyes are tilted down.
  8. shows both cats arguing. They both have an angry expression on their faces as well as the negative symbols in the speech bubble above their heads. The eyes are tilted down.
  9. shows a boy cat calmed down. He has a neutral expression on his face. Meanwhile, the girl is still angry. Her eyes are tilted down and she has negative symbols in her speech bubble.
  10. shows the boy cat with a neutral expression, he is calm. Meanwhile, the girl cat is moving to the back of the frame and reduced in size which creates the effect of going away. She still has an angry expression on her face; the eyes are tilted down. The speech bubble is filled with negative symbols.
  11. shows the boy cat with a neutral expression, he is calm. Meanwhile, the girl cat is moving further to the back of the frame and more reduced in size which creates the effect of going away. She still has an angry expression on her face; the eyes are tilted down. The speech bubble is filled with negative symbols.
  12. shows the boy cat all by himself and heartbroken. His eyes are little crosses. The speech bubble’s symbol is a broken heart.

A brief “context description” for each panel based on what it adds to the storyline.

Story 1: storytelling board 1

  1.  The boy cat is all by himself.
  2. He is surprised because he sees someone.
  3. He sees the girl cat and wonders who she is.
  4. The boy cat really likes the girl cat.  He looks at her with heart eyes and all he has on his mind is love. Meanwhile, the girl doesn’t express any feelings for the boy cat.
  5. After a while, both cats fall for each other. They look at each other lovingly.
  6. Suddenly, the girl brings up fish. The boy is still only thinking about love.
  7. The girl keeps insisting on the fish, which makes the boy cat angry.
  8. In this panel, both of the cats are angry and are in an argument.
  9. The girl is still angry but the boy already calmed down. The girl cat is very unhappy with the boy cat.
  10. Still angry, she moves further away from the boy cat. He is still calm.
  11. The girl cat continues to move further and further away. She is still angry but the boy cat is still calm.
  12. In the final panel, the boy cat ends up with a broken heart because the girl cat left him.

Story 2: storytelling board 2

  1. This story starts with the girl cat angry about something while the boy cat is not affected by it.
  2. Turns out, the girl was mad about fish, which, in its turn, makes a boy cat angry.
  3. Now both of the cats are angry and arguing about fish.
  4. In this panel, we see the girl cat slowly moving away from the boy. The boy cat wonders what she’s doing.
  5. The girl cat keeps moving further and further away from the boy cat. She is still angry.
  6. The boy cat is surprised and not sure what to do.
  7. The boy cat is now heartbroken because the girl cat left him.
  8. He is sitting all by himself with a neutral facial expression.
  9. Here we see the girl cat approaching the boy cat again. She is still angry at him.
  10. The girl cat asks about fish again and this time, the boy cat agrees with the idea. He is looking at the girl cat lovingly.
  11. The boy cat is once again in love with the girl cat. He looks at her lovingly and there is love on his mind.
  12. The final panel shows two cats in love with each other and looking at each other with love and great care.

Story 3: storytelling board 3

  1. At first, the boy cat is sitting all by himself. His facial expression is neutral, he is calm.
  2. Then he sees a girl cat approaching him.
  3. He wonders who the girl cat is.
  4. The girl cat is scolding him for some reason.
  5. They are both mad at each other and start arguing.
  6. To make the situation better, the girl cat mentions fish and the boy cat loves the idea.
  7. Both of them are in love. Except that the girl cat is in love with the idea of fish while the boy cat falls in love with her.
  8. The boy cat is expressing his feelings. He has love on his mind.
  9. Still, the girl mentions the fish again, which makes the boy cat angry.
  10. The girl cat gets angry at the boy as well and leaves him to find a cat who is going to give her fish.
  11. The boy is now surprised by the turn of events.
  12. He is very upset since the girl broke his heart.

Reflections on choices made about the visual elements and their composition. How did these choices contribute to the flexibility (pliability) of a panel? Did some panels present difficulties and how were those difficulties overcome?

I wanted to create something simple and easy to mix. Therefore, I don’t have any background in particular — only the main characters. The cats are the same shape but different colors. I didn’t intend for them to be different from each other except for the colors. The boy cat is blue and the girl cat is pink. Also, I decided to work with animals instead of humans because the cats like mine are easy to edit in terms of facial expressions. The fact that I don’t have the background plays a big role because that allows me to shuffle the panels freely without being worried that one background will not work for two other stories. Although, sometimes I had difficulty shuffling since there are a lot of different speech bubbles filled with symbols involved. Especially the ones where both cats are arguing. So I had to reshuffle many times to make sure one goes with another even when the cats are arguing. Also, I was worried the arguing panels will always go together but I was able to reshuffle them without having a block of story consisting of the same three panels.

Reflections on how panels changed meaning according to their context.

The most interesting thing about the assignment is trying to make three stories out of one. That was a tough part. However, it was a lot of fun mixing and matching all my panels. As an example, I’d like to mention the first and the second stories. In the first story, the boy cat was left with a broken heart because the girl cat leaves him because of fish conflict but in the second story, the boy cat reunites his love because of fish. In the first story, the cat only meets the girl for the first time while in the second story they are familiar with each other or the boy cat knows the girl cat right away. In fact, the second story is about the lovers going back and forth because of the fish. The fish aspect is very important to both of the stories as it’s used as a plot development device. I, personally, hate the stories where romance is used as a plot development detail. Therefore, the relationship of the cats was never used as a plot development device. The first story starts differently and ends differently. Therefore, I’d say that the panels’ meaning did change over the time.  The main content is different too: the first story’s storyboards showcase one story where the cat stays alone but the second story somehow turns into the love story.

Focusing on one panel at the time, the one where the lady cat is mad but the boy cat isn’t , changes its meaning. In the first story, it’s an unknown cat arguing with the main character and there is no implication of the first meeting. Meanwhile, in the second story, the girl cat arguing with the boy cat implies they know each other.  Therefore, the meaning and implications of the panel changes. Another panel is where the girl mentions fish for the first time. In one story the cat is in love with the girl cat but in the second story, the boy cat is in love with the idea of fish. What doesn’t change is the girl cat being in love with the idea of fish instead of the main character.

Those two are the most memorable examples of how the meaning or implications of the story changes.

Project 2 Documentation (Krom)

Link to PDF: Storyboard-Interactive-Storytelling1

A synopsis of each of the three stories.

  1. The first story is about a boy and a girl who buy ice cream from the ice cream truck at the park. They both eat their ice cream, but the girl drops hers and while he continues to eat his, she starts to cry. He then walks over to her and hands her his ice cream, leaving him with no ice cream at the end.
  2. The second story starts with the girl’s ice cream already on the floor as the boy, whom she doesn’t know, continues to eat his ice cream. When he sees the ice cream on the floor, he discreetly puts his hands behind his back, to hide his ice cream. But as he sees that she is crying, and very upset, he walks over to her with his ice cream and they go together to the ice cream truck. There, she gets another ice cream and the story ends with both of them enjoying their ice cream at the park.
  3. The third story begins with the boy without a dropped ice cream and a boy, upset, sitting at a park bench. The boy then goes to the ice cream truck, where a girl is also buying ice cream. They both get ice cream and eat it at the park, but the girl is the one who then drops her ice cream. The boy watches her drop it and when she starts to cry, he walks over and selflessly hands her his second ice cream.

A brief background description: what is the setting, who are the characters.

The story takes place on a sunny day at a park, one that has an ice cream truck. The characters are a girl and a boy, who do not know each other in any of the three stories. In the section of the park without the ice cream truck, there is a bench that only the boy sits on, and there is also a red flower and a grassy field. 

A brief “panel description” for each panel.

Panel 1 shows the boy and the girl, with their backs turned to us, standing in line, in front of an ice cream truck that is parked at a park. She is standing in front of him and her arms are raised and open to the sides. One of his arms is bent in front of him, so that we don’t see his right hand, the other arms is straight down. The sky is clear and sunny and it will remain this way for all panels. The truck is parked in a grassy area of the park.

Panel 2 shows another section of the park, where there is a bench, a grassy field, and a red flower that separates the boy and the girl. The boy is sitting on a bench eating his ice cream, and the girl is standing and eating her ice cream. Both are neutral in their expression.

Panel 3 shows the same section of the park as panel 2, and the boy and girl are in the same positions, but performing different actions. The girl is placing her hands on her “O” shaped mouth, gasping, and her ice cream is on the floor. The boy is still sitting on the bench but not eating his ice cream, and rather holding it up to the side and looking at the girl, still with a neural expression.

Panel 4 is a close up of the boy sitting on the park bench eating his ice cream. Next to him, only the red flower and part of the grassy field are visible. His hands are raised up to his mouth and he is holding the ice cream, neutral, and looking to the left side.

Panel 5 is a close up of the girl, crying very much. Her ice cream is fallen on the floor in front of her. Only a portion of the grassy field is visible in this panel. The girl’s eyes are squeezed tight and her mouth is wide open, revealing her tongue. Many teardrops are falling down her face. Her arms are spread open to the sides.

Panel 6 is a close up of the ice cream fallen on the grassy field. The top scoop is melting away faster than the bottom scoop, and the cone is still attached to the bottom scoop, slightly tilted to the left. Little patches of grass are visible in the panel around the fallen ice cream.

Panel 7 is a zoomed out shot again of the boy and the girl at the park. This time, the girl is still standing in the same position, holding her hands to her “O” shaped mouth with the fallen ice cream on the floor in front of her. The boy, however, is now standing next to her, holding his ice cream close to his body. He is smiling at her. The flower and the bench are behind him.

Panel 8 is a close up of two arms with an ice cream in the middle. Both arms are reaching toward the ice cream and there is a “handing over” exchange of the cone. The ice cream has two scoops, a green one and a lilac one and they are on top of an ice cream cone.

Panel 9 is a close up of the boy sitting on the park bench with only the red flower and some patches of grass next to him. As he sits on the bench, his hands are behind his back, he is looking to the left, and his mouth is contorted.

A brief “context description” for each panel based on what it adds to the storyline.

Story 1:

Panel 1: In this panel, neither the boy or the girl have ice cream when the story begins. But they are both in line to get ice cream from the ice cream truck that’s parked on the park. The boy waits for the girl to get her ice cream so that he can get his after. Because we don’t see his right hand, in this panel, it shows that he has it placed on his hip as a sign of standing and waiting.

Panel 2: In this panel, both the girl and boy have got their ice creams and are at the park. Because it is a small bench only one of them is sitting, the boy, but the girl is okay with standing and enjoying her ice cream. The boy seems to be looking at her while he eats his ice cream, but they are not friends. They are both calmly enjoying their ice cream.

Panel 3: In this panel, both the guy and the girl are at the same locations as they were in the previous panel, but their actions have changed. The girl is shocked and upset that she just dropped her ice cream. The boy is still sitting, but he is no longer eating his ice cream but rather looking at the girl and holding his ice cream out to the side, curious to see how the girl will react.

Panel 4: In this panel, the boy is looking towards the girl, and while he stopped eating his ice cream for a while in the previous panel, he goes back to enjoying his ice cream while sitting on the bench, not really affected by what just happened to the girl.

Panel 5: In this panel, we no longer see the boy, but we see the girl very upset that she dropped her ice cream. She is hysterically crying as can be seen from her facial expression and the amount of tears running down her face.

Panel 6: In this panel, after we’ve just seen the girl hysterically crying, we zoom into the fallen ice cream, which gives emphasis to the fact that the fallen ice cream was a big deal to her. It is nearly a dramatic zoom into the fallen ice cream to emphasize it as a tragedy.

Panel 7: In this panel, the boy has now made his way to the upset girl, and she has stopped crying, and is surprised that he is offering her his ice cream. He is glad to offer her his ice cream.

Panel 8: In this panel, we see the exchange of the ice cream cone, from the boy to the girl, as he kindly gives her his ice cream.

Panel 9: Finally, in this panel, the boy goes back to sitting on the bench, without any ice cream. His hands are empty and his hands are placed on his hips in annoyance and he is upset that he no longer has any ice cream.

Story 2:

Panel 1: In this initial panel, there is a boy and a girl, who both got ice cream, but the girl is shocked as she just dropped her ice cream on the floor. The boy, who sees her drop her ice cream, holds his ice cream and observes what she’ll do next. She is not paying attention to him sitting on the bench, but rather focused on what just happened to her.

Panel 2: In this panel, the boy goes back to enjoying his ice cream as he looks at the girl who just dropped hers. He is not willing to share his ice cream with her.

Panel 3: In this panel, there is a close up to the fallen ice cream, and it seems more ambiguous, because we’ve previously seen that both the girl and the boy had the same color ice cream. Therefore, it could be that he also dropped his ice cream on the floor, or it could be her fallen ice cream. This panel adds a little suspense to the story, especially in conjunction with the next panel.

Panel 4: In this panel, we see the boy, but not his ice cream, and has his hands behind his back and a concerned expression on his face. He is hiding his ice cream so as not to offer it to the girl and is being very possessive of his ice cream.

Panel 5: In this panel, the girl gets even more upset that she dropped her ice cream and starts hysterically crying. She feels helpless and does not have money to get another one.

Panel 6: In this panel, seeing that the girl was visibly upset, the boy feels guilty and walks over with his ice cream, but does not give her his. Instead, he talks to her to make sure she is alright, but she is still upset that her ice cream fell on the floor. He suggests they go to the ice cream truck so that she can get a new one.

Panel 7: In this panel, the boy then takes the girl to the ice cream truck, and we see that he still has his ice cream because his right hand is held up in front of his body, meaning he is holding the ice cream. The girl asks for another ice cream and he buys her the ice cream.

Panel 8: In this panel, the man selling ice cream hands the girl another ice cream.

Panel 9: Finally, the girl and boy return to the park and go back to enjoying their ice cream, and even though he did something nice to her, they go back to their initial positions.

Story 3:

Panel 1: In this panel, we see a boy visibly upset, sitting on a park bench with his hands behind his back. Although the day is sunny and there is a pretty flower next to him, something has made him upset.

Panel 2: In this panel, there is a fallen ice cream, which suggests the boy dropped his ice cream and that is why he is upset.

Panel 3: The boy then goes back to the ice cream truck to buy more ice cream, and there is a girl in front of him also buying ice cream, so he waits for his turn with a hand on his hip.

Panel 4: In this panel, they both go to the park with their ice cream, and the boy returns to his usual spot on the bench, but this time, he is calmly enjoying his ice cream.

Panel 5: In this panel, the girl is the one who then drops her ice cream, startled. Because he had previously dropped his, the boy then stops eating his ice cream and observes her to see what she’ll do next.

Panel 6: Unable to resist his ice cream, however, he goes back to eating it in this panel, but is still looking over at the girl.

Panel 7: In this panel, she starts to cry hysterically because of the fallen ice cream, so we see that she is very upset at what happened.

Panel 8: In this panel, the boy who was enjoying his second ice cream walked over to the upset girl and offered her his ice cream. Shocked at his generosity, the girl put her hands on her mouth at his offer. She is very thankful.

Panel 9: Finally, we see him handing her the ice cream and her accepting it, in a final, selfless act on the boy’s part.

Reflections on choices made about the visual elements and their composition. How did these choices contribute to the flexibility (pliability) of a panel? Did some panels present difficulties and how were those difficulties overcome?

I wanted to make my drawings using simple, thin lines, to facilitate drawing the different elements that I wanted to add to each panel. I also wanted to make the panels very colorful, so that they added a touch of childlike abstractions to a piece that involves two children and ice cream. Because of the overall simplicity of the visuals, they contributed to the flexibility of panels (although not all were very flexible) in being shuffled around to create new stories. I had the feeling that I could’ve even created more than three stories if I wanted to. Panels such as the close of the fallen ice cream, the hand exchange of the ice cream cone, and the close ups of both the girl and the boy were more flexible because there wasn’t as much going on in these panels, so they could be used to describe different actions at different moments. The zoomed out shots where both characters were involved, especially the ones where the fallen ice cream was clearly in front of the girl were less flexible because I had to take into account all the different things happening within the panel. However, because there were many flexible panels, it was easier to overcome the difficulties with the zoomed out panels, since the order of events could be more easily switched around. For this final version, I made some changes according to feedback on my presentation, such as making the boy’s bent arm more visible in the ice cream truck panel and also placing the ice cream closer to his body on panel 5, when he walks over to the girl. Those minor changes did help with all stories, especially in getting my meaning across more clearly. 

Reflections on how panels changed meaning according to their context.

The panel with the two arms and the ice cream in the middle, although very simple, was an interesting one because it carried different weight in each story. In the first story, there is an exchange from the boy to the girl, same as in the third story, but the exchange in the third story seems to carry more weight in terms of value. Because the boy had already dropped his first ice cream and was willing to give away his second ice cream, the hand motion is much more powerful and ends the story with a message of selflessness and kindness. In the first story, we get a sense of kindness as well, especially coming from a stranger, but because it is not at the end of the story and there is still more action to come, it is not as impacting, especially since we learn that the boy was a little upset that he didn’t have any ice cream at the end. As for the second story, the ice cream exchange carries virtually no weight, because it is simply the ice cream man giving the girl her ice cream.

The panel with the boy sitting on the bench with his hands behind his back and a funky facial expression is also interesting to look at in the different stories. In the first story, the boy is upset and empty handed after he did a nice thing and gave his ice cream to the girl in the park who dropped hers. Although he did something nice, he was still upset at nothing having ice cream, and perhaps he had no more money to go buy another ice cream for himself. As for in the second story, the boy tries to be sneaky and hide his ice cream behind his back so as not to give it to the girl after she dropped hers. Although he eventually feels bad and takes her to get another one, in this scene we see that he is not willing to share his ice cream, regardless of how upset the girl is. In the third story, the boy is empty handed and very upset, but for a completely different reason from the first story. In this story, he is the one who initially dropped his ice cream on the floor. So as he sits in the park bench, without ice cream and upset, he contemplates getting a second ice cream.

These two panel examples explained above were the ones that stood out to me in terms of how much their meanings changed from one story to the next.

Interactive Storytelling: Project 2: Three Stories from One Storyboard

Synopsis of each story:

  1. A person is walking by when he notices a box falling a second too late and is squished by the box. A mysterious second person uses the force to remove the box from the squished man, and the man who was helped thanks the mysterious second person and shakes his hand.
  2. Two people are talking and one walks away. When the one walking away turns their back to the other, the one still standing uses the force to sever the rope on a hanging box and causes the box to land on the one walking away. The box lands on the person walking and the force of it causes it to roll off, revealing a knocked out person underneath.
  3. A box happens to fall and squish a man without warning . A bystander stumbles upon the incident, noting where the box came from, and uses the force to remove the box from the man below it, helping him. The man that was helped thanks his helper with a firm handshake.

A brief background description: what is the setting, who are the characters.

The background of all of these stories is undefined, but most likely a construction site, or warehouse, where there are often objects suspended in the air.

Panel descriptions:

  1.  Two people shaking hands: in this panel, two people are shaking hands, smiling at each other (whether they are greeting, thanking, or about to say goodbye to each other is unknown.)
  2. One person walking: in this panel, a person is near-cluelessly walking from left to right in the middle of the frame. (Unknown origins and unknown destination.)
  3. Force-using hand: in this panel, an unknown person is using the power of the force to enact change on the environment around them.
  4. Box-falling: in this panel, a rope with one end attached to a box is shown to have snapped. The box is in the air and falls downwards towards the pull of gravity.
  5. Person looking upwards: in this panel, a person notices something odd and out of the ordinary occurring above them, which causes them to shift their gaze upwards, this is shown by the arrow.
  6. Box squishing a person: in this panel, a box has fallen onto a person. (Whether the occurrence was purposeful of accidental is unknown) We see a person’s body covered almost entirely by the box.
  7. Dizzy/knocked-out person next to a box: in this panel, we see a person spread out across the ground with a box moving next to them, shown by the arrows. (Whether the box is in motion due to natural or unnatural forces is unknown.) The person on the ground is dizzy/knocked out.

 

Context descriptions:

Story-1

  1. Two men are amicably shaking each other’s hands, saying goodbye to one-another.
  2. The man on the right on the previous panel walks away in one direction.
  3. The man on the left in the first panel reaches out with his hand to use the force.
  4. The force enacted causes the rope holding a suspended box the snap and the box to fall
  5. The man walking on the second panel notices something coming from above, a split second too late.
  6. The man who was previously walking has now been crushed by the falling box.
  7. The extra force of the falling box causes it to roll off of the man, revealing the knocked out man below it.

Story-2

  1. A man is walking along, going about his day and minding his own business.
  2. Suddenly, the man notices something odd above him, which causes him to look up.
  3. Next, we see a box falling, the rope that once held it in the air has snapped.
  4. Unfortunately, the box falls onto the man and squishes him.
  5. Then, we see a mysterious hand using the power of the force in the direction of the box.
  6. The box is removed from the man that was once crushed and we see him on the ground, dizzy from the impact.
  7. Finally, we see the identity of the saviour, being thanked by the man he helped, and the two people shaking hands.

Story-3

  1. The rope holding a box suspended in the air happens to snap and falls towards the ground.
  2. The box lands on an unlucky bystander and the bystander is crushed underneath.
  3. A second man is walking along, minding his own business.
  4. This new man stumbles upon the incident and shows concern by looking up to see where the box came from, out of curiosity.
  5. He reaches out his hand to use his powers in the force to move the box off of on top of the man who had been crushed by it.
  6. As the box moves, it reveals the man below not to be dead, but simply knocked out and dizzy from the incident.
  7. In the final scene, we see the man who had the accident thanking the man who used the force to help him, with the latter man gesturing that it was no big deal.

Reflections:

Originally, I had struggled with the intentions of the characters in my story, and the definition of who was who in each story. This, I fixed by simplifying the frames even further, and taking my story sets from 8 panels to 7. This allowed there to be less confusion by taking away a lot of the elements that were cluttering each panel. Some examples of these cluttering elements were the inconsistencies in the direction in which the characters were facing, and the order in which some panels were shown, and how they caused confusion on how many characters there were in the story. I did have a brief problem with one of my depictions, the force hand, which at first wasn’t clear that it was invoking a supernatural power, but I managed to fix using motion lines and icons to represent something coming from the hand.

Another challenge was the definition of independent stores and the implied, subtle meanings that differed between each one. Defining entirely different tones, such as that of malignancy in one story, and benevolence in another story proved a bit of a challenge. Ultimately, re-accommodating  the order and simplifying the images down to their core intended meaning solved these issues.

Interactive Storytelling: Animated Short Analysis – Piper (2016)

Piper (2016)

The Short that I picked was Piper (2016), made by Pixar animation studios. The main purpose of the short film as a whole is the fact that Piper’s mom is trying to teach them how to hunt for food in the sand by themselves, without having to be fed, but Piper quickly develops a fear of the sea water, and the waves. The story event represented in this analysis begins at minute 3:57, when the wave that little Piper is so afraid of is about to come and engulf it once again.  However, this time, Piper has seen the little hermit crabs burrow themselves in the sand and gets the crazy idea to do the same, although it is just a little bird itself. The chunk of the short goes all the way up to minute 4:20, where Piper has seen what is below the water after the wave has crashed onto it and onto the crabs as well.

The main item at stake is Piper’s life. Though this isn’t particularly focused on so much since the short is meant to be light-hearted and appealing, if Piper doesn’t learn to get food by itself it will eventually die. This value is the main driving force behind Piper’s adventure, as it is its motivation for continually going out into the water to get food. We can see this driving force, which is hunger, visually at minute 2:38, when Piper’s stomach begins to rumble. We also know that getting food is the main objective in this short since at the beginning we see all of the other birds looking for food on the shore, Piper settling in the sand and opening its mouth, waiting to be fed, and Piper’s mom motioning it over to go with her so they can look for food together.

In this scene in particular, we see the main change of state in Piper’s adventure, quite literally, in and through its eyes. Once Piper gets beckoned by the little Hermit Crab, it opens its eyes after having them closed in fear, and its whole face lights up and sees the abundance of food around them, as the waves have dug up all of the clams and other critters that they eat. We are able the see the change in Piper’s fear, to excitement, wonder, and discovery. The frames themselves have the main elements take up the whole frame. When we see Piper and the crab in the sand, they both take up the whole frame to emphasise the tapping of the little crab on Piper’s beak, as well as when all the clams in the water are shown in the next take. All of the element of this scene are about representation, and about conveying the larger message that sometimes our objectives are often right in front of us, but may be blocked by fear that can be overcome through a little help of circumstance.

A lot of the feelings that are evoked in this scene definitely come from the visual elements in the world, especially the lighting. Through the water we can see light shining on Piper and on the clams floating around and it inspires hope and wonder, which previously seemed impossible for Piper. The visuals definitely have a lot to add to the narrative as a whole. The detail and petite-ness instilled on Piper immediately allow the viewers to make a connection, and wish for the success of Piper in the story. By the point of the selected scene, the viewer is so invested in Piper that the emotions felt by it are reflected on the viewer very easily and successfully.

Pixar’s La Luna Analysis // Ewa Oberska

La Luna – Pixar

La Luna is an amazing piece that shows the story of a boy who was taken by his father and grandfather on a night sail across an ocean. Even though there were no dialogues in the animation, it was clear at the first sight that the father and the grandfather of the boy had different ideas of how they wanted the boy to be and act. The significant story event, that I have chosen to elaborate on, is the moment when the boy discovers his own way and comes up with something else than what the elder have told him, at the same time astonishing them, making them proud and uniting the family.

As the characters are sailing, they witness the moon going up in the sky. They manage to get on top of it in order to ‘clean it up’ off little stars that had been falling on the moon. At some point, a shooting star landed on the moon however, it was much larger than any others. The father and the grandfather kept arguing about ways to move it and ‘clean up’, as they did with other, smaller stars. As they were arguing, the boy was thinking independently, about his own way. The animation beautifully shows the moment when he decided what he wanted to do. He symbolically turned his hat around (as that was the subject of another quarrell between the father and the grandfather in the very beginning of the movie), showing that he is his own person and has his own idea of who he wants to be. He climbed the star and found a way to make it break and scatter around as lots of smaller stars.

The animation shows the values of independence and individuality, through the process of maturing, being able to make one’s own decisions. Throughout the entire animation, we see the constant arguments between the two adult men and a boy who is trying to find his own place and identity in that situation.

The father and the grandfather strive to teach the boy their own values and their own ways, to the extent where then end up imposing their preferences onto the boy (like, for instance, when they keep changing the boy’s way of wearing hat, while the boy himself has no saying in it). They want to teach him, while what the boy wants is to find his own way and identity.

A very subtle moment happened right before the event of the enormous star landing on the moon. While the older men, yet again, were arguing about how the boy should clean the moon’s surface of the stars, the ground started shaking. However, the only character, who noticed it immediately, was the boy, as his father and grandfather were too occupied arguing. That shows what the characters really value and pay attention to. The boy, through noticing the shaking ground first, showed that he wants something beyond his family quarrels, that he was observant and curious enough not to settle down for whatever his family would tell him to do, that he was determined to explore and find the real himself.

The most beautiful conclusion of the movie was when the three characters were working together to ‘clean’ the moon, every one of them in his very special and individual way, and the boy using a rake.

In terms of the visuals, it is important to notice the color change throughout the whole animation. As it approaches towards the end, the general colors change into warmer and brighter ones, symbolizing the peace and the family coming together. Another very crucial aspect, that many might overlook, is the soundtrack used in the movie. It always corresponds to specific events therefore, helping the audience understand emotions and feelings of the characters. However, what I found especially exceptional is that whenever the father and grandfather start fighting, the music fades away, stops.

I greatly enjoyed watching (and re-watching) La Luna – partly thanks to the great story, due to the symbolism, but also greatly because of the aesthetics and the role that they play.

Analysis of an Animated Short: La Luna

The story traces a grandfather, father, and son on a boat, making their way to the moon to perform the family business, and to teach the young boy their profession. As the story progresses, we learn that the two older men work on the surface of the moon, sweeping shooting stars to change the shape of the moon as seen from Earth. In the scene being analyzed, a massive shooting star falls on the moon, and the men are all shocked, not knowing what to do with it. However, the young boy, who seems to be visiting the moon for the first time and thus learning how to sweep it for the first time also, has the idea to climb up the star and hit it with a hammer so that it shatters into hundreds of small stars that can then be easily swept.

In terms of values, the story, and the chosen scene in particular, presents a beautiful visual representation of familial generations, and traditions. The grandfather and father of the young boy are both eager to teach the boy their customs, and often come into conflict as to who the boy should imitate. What’s most poignant about the story, however, is that the goals of the two older characters, which seemed clear at first—to teach the young boy how to sweep the moon’s surface and carry on their family tradition—are challenged when the boy comes up with a solution to the main conflict without their help. At this scene is where there seems to be a greater value that arises out of such conflict. It’s no longer necessarily about tradition in a rigid sense, but about the strengthening of family bonds as facilitated by the youngest member of the family (and the one who supposedly was there to learn rather than teach).

The boy’s evident curiosity and eagerness to learn, as seen from the close up shots of his facial expressions as he takes in the scenery around him, allows for his unexpected action at the end of the story. From that point on, the two older men can’t help but smile back at the young boy, amazed at his clever action. Whereas they were initially bickering over who would teach the young boy how to act, they turn to the boy instead and all work together to sweep the fallen stars. This teamwork at the end of the chosen scene is a juxtaposition to the initial mise en scène, where the boy is sitting between his father and grandfather, watching them bicker over how he should wear his hat. It is also a juxtaposition to the mise en scène directly before the shooting star crashes on the moon. The father and grandfather are intensely arguing over which broom the boy should use (each broom symbolizing their moustache and beard respectively), and he stands in the middle, holding both brooms, upset at their family members arguing so much. The point of highest conflict between the two characters is also the point where a non-habitual physical event happens and allows for the mood transformation and value shift. Symbolically, from the moment he stepped away from his father and grandfather’s shadows and climbed on top of the biggest, brightest star and took a risk, he experienced a coming-of-age and also brought his family together in a loving final scene.

Overall, the representation in the story is very beautiful and moving. In further detail, there are visible semantic features of the story that reveal narrative discourse. The spatial dimensions—the movement from the sea, to the ladder, to the moon—although unusual, brings together mundane and surreal elements to the story and adds to the “lullaby-esque” abstraction. As previously mentioned, the temporal dimension is made clear by the non-habitual physical event—the giant shooting star—which causes a transformation at the exact scene being analyzed. The mental dimension can be seen by all characters, but most poignantly by the young boy, who emotionally reacts to his father and grandfather arguing and also seems amazed at all the beautiful stars on the moon. Even more so, when the boy decides to solve the problem with the giant shooting star, and cracks a wide smile at his family members as he lands on top of the pile of stars, there is an immediate reaction from the other characters, who go from being angry at one another to smiling at one another. Finally, the formal and pragmatic dimension can be seen through the sequence of events and emotions that the characters undergo. The analyzed scene, which to me, seems like the main event, brings about a transformation in all characters and communicates something meaningful to viewers. The boy undergoes a coming-of-age, he brings his family together, and the power of family bonds is highlighted at the end. The frame’s composition in the end reveals that meaningful awareness—the boy is still in between his father and grandfather as they come together and sweep, but he now has his own broom and looks happily back at his grandfather and then at his father, reassured that they are no longer arguing but calmly working together.

 

Interactive Storytelling: Short Film Analysis (La Luna)

I’ve always wanted to do an in depth analysis of La Luna, so this assignment is my golden opportunity to do so! The story brings viewers through a journey in which a team of an old man, a middle-aged man, and young lad row a boat in the middle of the ocean to complete a task on the moon.

The short begins with a close up shot of the rowing boat, and then gradually zooms out in various shots to reveal the small boat’s isolation on the ocean. This builds a sense of purpose as the two older men row the boat calmly to a specific destination and stop. The boy’s wandering, curious eyes contrast greatly with his elders’ unruffled demeanors, a feeling reflected in viewers as we watch this new world with the same fresh eyes as the little boy. The men give him a present of a cap that looks like their own, further accentuating the idea of a purposeful trip in the boat. He looks slightly nervous and eager to learn from the two older men, who disagree with each other over how the boy ought to wear his cap (the old man’s front facing up tilt or the middle-aged man’s front facing down tilt). They sit in silence and wait. The moon rises, and the boy watches it in awe.

When the moon rises, the men gesture to the boy to tie the anchor upon him and climb a long ladder towards the moon. The small boy does this cautiously, and is surprised to find himself gravitating to the moon. As he reaches his destination, and anchors the boat to the moon after being prompted by the men, he discovers a falling star upon the moon that shimmers brightly as it falls. The men arrive and encourage him to sweep up the stars on the surface of the moon, arguing with each other once more about what tool (the old man’s broom or the middle-aged man’s brush) the boy ought to use to carry out this task. A large star plummets to the moon and the team takes cover together in a crater. (Values: assuredness/security –> fear, argument/disagreement –> cooperation/teamwork)

I’ll concentrate particularly on this scene that contains the climax of the short, the breaking of the large star.

The large star is a large obstacle in the way of the team’s task to sweep the stars into a pile. The star puzzles the two older men, resulting in a change from the initial assuredness the men had in completing the task. They struggle with various tools, breaking some of them, trying to pry the enormous obstacle from the moon’s surface. The men begin to argue as the boy examines the star. The boy, who was so tentative and unsure in the scene before, shifts into becoming confident in his instinct that the star cannot be pried but must be broken. He swivels his cap so that it sits backwards atop his head, a deliberate decision to mark his finding of his own identity apart from the two older men. Then, he breaks the star by hammering it once. He falls in a slow motion sequence, happy, confident, and self-assured, while his elders stare at him, awe-struck by his actions. The boy falls into a crater and smiles, as the men chuckle proudly. (Values: boy’s nervousness –> boy’s confidence)

The characters were all working to a common goal of removing the presence of the large star. The large star’s arrival disrupted the team’s sweeping, and thus was a problem that had to be dealt with in order for the team to complete their task. Visually, the disruption is caused by the sheer size of the star, not only in relation to the other stars but also to the characters themselves. It takes up so much of the screen, almost blocking the characters’ paths, a large problem that presents itself visually. The men struggle to pry up the star, communicating to viewers visually that the problem is a large one to solve, and also communicating that the men want the large star gone.

There is a moment when the little boy stares up at the large star. The shot is taken from above him, reminding viewers of the magnitude of the problem this small boy is attempting to face. Viewers are also reminded of the boy’s youth and small stature in the shot, a gentle prompting to viewers that he is new (likely the first time) to solving problems of this nature. As he grows in confidence that he can conquer the problem, he climbs the star. He shatters it only when he has reached the very top. The tiny stars fall in a shower in front of the two shocked men. It is a display of the boy’s victory, raining before their very eyes.

 

The boy, the men, the large star, the little stars, and the moon are all representation; each of these entities is taken as what they are. The light that the stars emit gives a dream-like quality to the story. The carefully chosen colors add a great deal to the story. The boy and the men are all dressed in warm, earthy tones, giving viewers an assurance that these are earthy humans, setting out to do a job just as ordinary people would. This is in direct contrast to the cool blues in the background, reminding viewers that this is no ordinary job as it takes place on extraordinary terrain (the moon). The caps the men wear and the tools they use are direct symbols of the varying paths the boy has to choose to follow. At one point, the boy actually aligns the tools with the beards of the men, pointing viewers specifically to the ideas behind the symbols.

The short is a 3D animated film, one that employs a great amount of rendering in all objects. The film’s aesthetic plays a great deal with proportion, creating characters that look a lot like caricatures in order to emphasize each character’s defining qualities. The oldest man is defined by his age, with his shrunken stature, long white beard, and hunched shoulders. The middle-aged man has a bushy beard and a large body, the strength of a man past the tenderness of his youth yet before the debilitation of old age. Their eyes are covered with thick, exaggerated eyebrows, signifying their current inability to see the wonder of the amazing world they live and work in. This changes when the boy falls victorious from the big star; the men’s eyes are revealed to see the wonder the child experiences. The young boy in contrast to the men, has a small body and huge eyes, through which he gazes at the world with amazement and through which we see a multitude of feelings through his expressions. The stars especially are almost overly rendered in their brightness, giving a source of light to the scenes and creating an otherworldly glow.

I really enjoyed the film’s visual style, I think it managed to create a soft dreaminess that the story calls for. I liked the character design of the boy very much, his expressions and growing confidence is at the heart of the film’s emotional core. However, I did feel that the characters of the older men could have been enhanced a little more. They seem fairly indistinguishable from older men in other animated films, and therefore I felt less connected to them and did not care as much about what they went through during the film. Overall, I really enjoyed this short film!