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Directing the Story: Professional Storytelling and Storyboarding Techniques for Live Action and Animation [Paperback]

by Francis Glebas
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 9, 2008 0240810767 978-0240810768 1
Francis Glebas, a top Disney storyboard artist, teaches artists a structural approach to clearly and dramatically presenting visual stories. They will learn classic visual storytelling techniques such as conveying meaning with images and directing the viewer's eye. Glebas also teaches how to spot potential problems before they cost time and money, and he offers creative solutions on how to solve them.

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Directing the Story: Professional Storytelling and Storyboarding Techniques for Live Action and Animation + Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts: 2nd Edition
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Editorial Reviews


Francis Glebas has put together a really comprehensive and thought-provoking look at the art and craft of film making, specifically directing. His approach, which is to ask a lot of seemingly innocent questions, has much the same effect as the good storytelling he is trying to teach draws us in and makes us think. I can't imagine anyone, in or out of our business, who won't find any number of helpful ideas as they work their way through the filmmaking jungles!!
- Roy Disney, Director Emeritus and consultant for The Walt Disney Company

Francis Glebas was one of our most talented storyboard artists at Disney, and it was our great fortune to have him on the story team. He has a wealth of experience to share.
- Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO, Dreamworks Animation

About the Author

Francis Glebas worked as a story artist for Disney Feature Animation on Aladdin, Lion King, Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dinosaur, Treasure Planet and Hercules. He also directed Pomp and Circumstance starring Donald Duck in Fantasia 2000 and Piglet's BIG Movie. Francis is also an award-winning independent live action movie maker with almost 40 years' experience. He currently teaches storyboarding at Gnomon School of Visual Effects. Francis also works as a creative consultant, having worked with the Irish Government, Korean Government, General Motors, Los Alamos Labs, Walt Disney Imagineering and other film studios.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (October 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240810767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240810768
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 10.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For a radical new approach to storytelling check out my blog:

It's a new story theory explored in detail, as also presented in my book, Iggy's Incredibly Easy Way to Write a Story

I got into animation to work out traumas from watching Disney's Snow White at 4 years old. I made my first animated films at 13. I've always loved cartoons. And because both of my parents were teachers I also love teaching others all about the things I've learned.

DISNEY DIRECTOR: Piglet's Big Movie, Fantasia 2000, Fox and Hound 2
DISNEY STORYBOARDING and VISUAL DEVELOPMENT: Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hercules, Dinosaur, Treasure Planet, Fantasia 2000, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tinkerbell 1 & 2
STORYBOARDING: Space Chimps, Tom and Jerry Fast and Furrier, Curious George 2, The Wild Bunch
DREAMWOKS STORYBOARDING: How to train your Dragon
BLUE SKY STUDIOS: Rio, Ice Age 4, Leafmen, Rio 2
TEACHING: UCLA, Gnomon School Visual Effects, NYIT, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Disneytoon Studios
CONSULTING: Walt Disney Imagineering, General Motors Innovation Zone, Los Almos Labs, The Korean government, The Irish government, Animated Athletics,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two enthusiastic thumbs up May 2, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Length: 0:22 Mins
Note the title is about directing the story, not directing the movie, and the emphasis is on the story.

The goal of this book is to help you get your audience "lost in the story" of your movie. It details a lot of professional directing techniques and principles to help aid storytelling. The writing is clear and Francis Glebas even storyboarded a whole short story to serve as an example, in addition to the many examples already provided.

Using storyboards as a primary tool, he goes through the various storytelling techniques used in films , like ways to pace/cut scenes, introducing themes and story structure subtly, directing the audience's eyes, creating characters people can related to, etc. Francis Glebas then breaks down these high level concepts into many smaller easy-to-understand points to focus in depth.

One particular point to note is the version of "One Thousand and One Arabian Nights" Francis Glebas has storyboarded to provided as an example throughout the book. All the techniques he teaches are used in the storyboard for that story. It ends with cliffhangers in every chapter. The story is absorbing even though it's done in sketches. Goes to show that story is still king.

This book is for anyone who wants to direct professional stories. It should be made compulsory reading in film schools. Two enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

For more reading, I would recommend Ideas for the Animated Short, which goes even further in depth with storytelling techniques. Bad stories shouldn't have excuses.

(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A top notch book on story May 26, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Disney story artist Francis Glebas has put together a great book on the process of cinematic storytelling.

Directing the Story touches on composition, pacing and many dramatic techniques designed to creating more emotional connections in stories.

This book goes well with Nancy Bieman's Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts for quality story instruction, but whereas her book also focuses on character design and other aspects of animation, Directing the Story looks solely at storytelling, and not necessarily for animation.

What really sets Glebas' book apart is that it includes a fully boarded out story (an adaptation of 1001 Arabian Nights) that incorporates the methods he's teaching.

There are a couple sticking points with me. One is the writing style. There are plenty of spots throughout the book where I found myself glossing over text because it was so dense. Also even though this book seems to focus on cinematic storytelling in general, animation is where this type of storytelling is most common and people interested in this book are most likely interested in animation. It would have been nice to see a bit more focus on animation and traditional storyboarding to really top things off.

But all things told, Directing the Story has a great look on storytelling. One that other books don't have.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring and entertaining read October 4, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There is no substitute than real world experience in storytelling and your subjective observations contain the core value to "good" storytelling. If it comes from deep within you, it's subjective, if it is about human emotional experience and directed to humans, your experience has an objective effect when channeled to others by way of the art of storytelling. That I believe should logically follow to our many convoluted definitions to what story is. I just want to get that out, because I can see how a negative remark about this book can easily stem from one's argumentative definition about story, which may deter critical readers, but hopefully just attract other critical sophist hell bent on their own opinions on everything they deem worth commenting and advising others about in online forums.

This book isn't trying to aim at pretense in the form of authoritarian advice. And it is most useful for those interested in the art of storytelling for animated films, but it's not a shortcoming in any respect. Simply put, Glebas offers his profound and generous advice and "definitions" to story by presenting the inherent problems in visual storytelling, as he goes through countless examples with the reader which in his approach that person becomes more of an observer to the craft of storyboards.

As an animator trying to break in the industry as a story artist, I've read a good amount of the recommended books directly and indirectly on the subject, from the illusion of life and countless "bibles", to books on live action film and Aristotle's Poetics. But in terms of sheer straight forward utility I found this book very helpful. It has the potential to sharpen my focus and skills.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Used this book in a storyboarding class April 28, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book for its insights into visual storytelling. My favorite tip is that visual communication can be constructed grammatically to form complete visual sentences one picture word at a time. At times Glebas gets a little wordy, hitting on many ideas but not nailing them down as clearly or as confidently as others. While certainly not perfect the book offered me too many ideas to receive any less than 5 stars. The book is full of gems. And it was the least expensive text book of the semester.

It was also a real treat to see Glebas demonstrate storyboarding throughout the text.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Purchased as gift for son who is a 3D animator. It has been helpful in his work. Pleased with it.
Published 27 days ago by david Heidenreich
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Have!
An art director I was working with had gotten this book a while ago and it's been recommended to me by some others. It's been living up to the expectation ever page. Read more
Published 3 months ago by jdemetrician
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Magnificent!
The greatest book I've ever read on structuring a story. Bravo, Francis Glebas! Thank you so much for writing this book.
Published 5 months ago by CLS1970
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect.
This book was perfect for what I was looking for at the time while studying animation in college. It's clear and has so much to offer. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dillon D. Kemble
5.0 out of 5 stars Very valuable tips
Everything you need to know of how to create a story in a very inspiring way, I definitively recommend it
Published 7 months ago by Oscar Franco
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for Direction!
During my student thesis I used this book to reference out some key techniques but keep in my you will never have a chance to use all the wonderful techniques this book describes... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Cash A. Echevarria
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful for preproduction!!!
I love filming and directing, but the most important is preproduction this book will help you on storyboards, trust me it saved so many of my projects in the preproduction stage. Read more
Published 9 months ago by jingo
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliantly useful
packed full of information laid out in a way that is easy to follow this book talks about the nature of story in general not just visual story-telling in animation and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Christopher Michaels
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have For Any Storyteller
I received this book as a Christmas present a while back, and since then, it has been my storytelling Bible. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless
Very good, comprehensive, hands-on, book that not only points the beginner towards the right direction, but also polishes those who've been around for a while and wish to broaden... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Robert Garcia
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