Sunday, November 6, 2011

Inside the Laboratory: Behind the Scenes at Imaginos Workshop

Part III – Laying out the Thumbnails and Layouts

Once we have the idea and the details fleshed out for the story, the world it inhabits and the characters then it is off to the thumbnails.  This is the hardest part of the creation process for most of us…except Mark.

The reason is that now we have all this material to play with but the key is to organize it into a good story.  This is where we often have the greatest creative differences but not in a bad way.  This is where we really try to make sure we have no holes in the story or commit the same creative sins that others do.  Having four sets of eyes on each project goes a long way towards making sure that we’re not being lazy and keeping each other honest when it comes to story details.

Mark is always the first person to ask “Why?” for anything that Joe, Jon or I bring up on a particular project.  He does this to make sure we put the work into that specific point and if we can explain it properly then he’s in full support of it.  There are times where we cannot explain our points and we end up realizing that damn we need to put more thought into this. 

A prime example of this process involved a project that Jon and I have been working on.  I wanted to give one of the characters a set of brass knuckles and was completely infatuated with the idea.  Mark simply asked why and when I couldn’t properly explain it he had managed to demonstrate that I was falling into the same traps that other creators did.  I was putting things in the story just for the ‘cool’ or ‘sweetness’ factor and that is a cardinal sin, at least for us.  He was pretty patient in listening to me argue the point until the light bulb went off in my head.  We then went back and worked on the idea and found a proper way to introduce it, which meant a lot to us.   There are times when we pose the same question to Mark and he appreciates the fact that we ask because it keeps him on his toes as well.

The thumbnails and layouts are very important to any story whether it’s a comic, movie, video game or a book.  Well for movies they’re called storyboards and we only do that for ourselves since we can’t directly produce them yet.  Here we get an idea of how the story flows and what areas need to be emphasized in order to tell a good story. 

I’m notorious for using 3x5 note cards and drawing stick figures (since that’s my skill level) when it comes to layouts and thumbnails.  Mark, Joe and Jon take great joy in ridiculing my Luddite ways but all in good fun.   The fact that we all work well together is because we don’t hold back.  If one of us sees something that doesn’t make sense or we don’t like we simply say it.  Ego and pride always go out the door for us because we don’t have time for it not when we’re in the business of creating they simply get in the way.  Joe, Jon, Mark and I take turns rotating on the one voice of dissent which helps because this way it doesn’t feel like one person is constantly playing ‘Debbie Downer’. 

 All serious creators go through the layout & thumbnail process but where we try to excel is making sure that we do not create or allow any holes in the story to make it to the final process.  By the time we’re ready to write the final script for a particular project we’re confident that all the major flaws have been corrected.  Now we can focus on the writing and refining process so that we’re ready to deliver a story that people can truly enjoy.  The one key thing we emphasize at Imaginos Workshop is that while not everyone will like our stories no one will ever be able to say we were lazy or didn’t think our stories through. 

Ok everyone now you have a basic idea of how things work at Imaginos Workshop and this way when you see us releasing things you’ll know what went into it.  Please stay tuned because I’m sure we’ll have some behind the scenes videos coming out soon too.  Take care everybody!


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