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)


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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