99 Ways to Tell a Story

Exercises in style by Matt Madden
This is a series of cartoons drawn by Matt Madden to illustrate how there are always many, many ways to tell and present a story. Animation is very visual, just like cartooning, so what tends to work for cartoonists also tends to work for animators. Use this as a guide and as inspiration for your own work. BTW – he really did create 99 different ways to tell and present the identical sequence of events. This is just a sampling of his work, used here as a teaching aid for your reference.

This is the original – the series of events portrayed each and every time... - 8 frames - a basic telling of the events - shown in a logical sequence / presentation, that is easy to follow and is very familiar to us (a standard pattern of storytelling)

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POINTS OF VIEW The following show the story from various points of view (POV). and very important for you to know. This is storytelling at its most basic. .

The same events – told as a monologue by Matt .

As seen from Matt’s POV (a very subjective point of view or frame of reference) .

Changing POV can open your insight into what is really happening and can be a strong source of creativity. .As seen from Jessica’s POV. Don’t always use just the standard POV – potentially boring.

As seen from the refrigerator’s POV. .

. but.As seen from a voyeur’s POV – a little funky. . to say the least.. isn’t this approach used in every spy movie? It tells you what the other guys know about the situation in the story – a very revealing and helpful storytelling tool.

A twist on the idea of a different POV.The sequence of events shown as a How -To series of instructions. .

NOTE – this is not the same as déjà vue nor is it the same as a flashback which are other twists of time.The same story told in reverse. . This is another twist on varying the POV using time.

he has a strong sense that he has experienced this before. .Deja vue – ie.

Flashback – he recalls exactly what happened and we are now in his memory with him as he experiences the events all over again. .

.GENRES The term genres describes different families of film types.horror films . Typically this would include . many other types as well.science fiction and many.documentary films . What follows are examples of some of these to show you how you can re-position any story into a whole new genre.romance films .westerns .action films .

.Done as a 60’s retro hippy era piece. Notice the style of drawing changes completely to reinforce the sense of the genre.

This is the story told as a single frame political cartoon. Examine this one very carefully. . Notice – Jessica upstairs has now become The Boss! As I said – very clever. A very clever interpretation of the events.

Again. . observe how the drawing style has changed completely to reinforce the sense of the genre.This is a events shown as a manga style story.

Each genre has key elements that must be followed if it is to be true to that genre.This is the story shown as a western. . The style of drawing is not important but the characters are very important.

.The events told as a drama or possibly as part of a romance. Again. drawing is less important and characters are critically important.

audio effects This just illustrates a few of these points. The language of film includes .lighting .camera angles .camera shots . but they are a good intro into the ideas required. Everything we do uses these tools. .LANGUAGE OF FILM This series illustrates various uses of the language of film.pacing .camera movements .

.Shown using three different camera angles.

Shown using extreme zoom (a common camera movement) .

Shown using only one camera shot – extreme close-ups. .

Shown using only one camera shot – long shots. .

One more variation for you to consider. .Last – this is sort of a variation on the use of language of film. Here. the story has been presented entirely as silhouettes.

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