Storyboard - Smart Pet Trick


Heres a simple story that you can shoot and edit in an hour or two. The purpose is to dramatize the enormous power of suggestion in movie making. The idea is that if something is not in the frame, you can make it be and do whatever you suggest.
The storyboard is self-explanatory, but here are some hints for a smooth and easy production. The roles are gender-independent and the dialogue is included only as a guideline. Let the performers improvise freely.

Start by titling your video. Dont worry if you dont have a fancy titler. Titles are easy to create with an ordinary word processor. Simply get a three ring binder with a clear cover pocket designed to hold an 8.5×11 sheet. Whether you use "Smart Pet Tricks" or your own alternative, print your title on a laser or ink jet printer. Insert the title sheet in the cover pocket and give the binder to your park bench spectator to read. Start the opening shot by filling the screen with the title and then zoom out to reveal the park.

Free-flying Frisbees are very difficult to frame adequately. If you have the ability to chromakey or otherwise composite visuals, youll get better results using this technique:

1) Hang the Frisbee from a very fine thread or monofilament fishing line. Place the Frisbee against a chromakey background. Even a plain blue sky will do if the Frisbee is a strongly contrasting color.

2) To make the Frisbee "fly" right to left, start your shot with an empty frame. Pan right past the stationary Frisbee ending with the frame empty again. Pan left to right to reverse the Frisbees direction. Or, simply flop the shot in post production and reuse it.

3) Shoot a plain sky during production so that the clouds and colors match the wide shots.

4) Composite the sky and Frisbee together to make each flying shot.

And since no compositing is absolutely free of edge artifacts, keep these shots as brief as practical.

Regarding the pet, you have three equally good options:

If you have an actual dog, use it. Show it in the opening and closing shots to add to the illusion. You can also put doggy barks and panting on the sound track.

If you are canine-deprived, shoot the storyboard as shown without ever revealing the pet. You may wish to omit the sound effects so that the audience has no clue as to whats on the end of that leash.

For a truly bizarre effect, substitute a snake, a gerbil, even a lobster in the final shot.

If you use this approach, decide whether you want the bench warmer to be surprised by this unusual pet or to behave as if the whole business were perfectly ordinary. You can get a laugh from your audience either way, but your choice may depend on the ability of your performer.

Finally, remember that the power of suggestion depends a good deal on timing. To suggest the distance the Frisbee travels off-screen, keep the pet owner on screen for a few seconds after throwing (or before catching) it.

Finally, if youre feeling ambitious, select a single, up-tempo music cut. Time it and roll it in under the edited program. Though the whole story plays in only a minute or two, it can make for a very effective and entertaining show.


SHOT 1 CU Spectator reading book labeled Smart Pet Tricks. Pet owner walks into frame with leashed pet below frame line.

AUDIO: Okay, Sparky: lets Play.

Shot 2 MS Spectator looks up from book with mild interest.

AUDIO: (off screen) Go fetch, fella; go get it!

Shot 3 MS Owner winds up, throws Frisbee out of frame, left.

AUDIO: Get it, boy!

Shot 4 CU Frisbee flies through frame, right to left.

AUDIO: Ambient noise.

Shot 5 MCU Slaps thigh then leans over to take the Frisbee.

AUDIO: Thats it! Bring it here, fella; atta boy (etc.)

Shot 6 XCU Frisbee shifts back and forth, then leaves frame right.

AUDIO: (Over friendly growls effect) oh, wanna play tug-o-war? Okay. Give it here. Good boy.

Shot 7 MS Owner winds up and throws Frisbee.

AUDIO: Now go deep for this one: way back; waaaay back! Here it comes!

Shot 8 XWS Frisbee flies into the Shot toward the distant pet.

AUDIO: (off screen) Hey, nice catch!

Shot 9 CU The spectator watches the catch, left, then follows the pet back to the pet owner.

AUDIO: (off screen) Bring it here! Good now, lets try your new trick!

Shot 10 CU The Frisbee flies through the frame, right to left.

AUDIO: (off screen) Nice one, Sparky!

Shot 11 CU The owner watches expectantly, then looks upward as..

AUDIO: Okay, go for it!

Shot 12 CU The Frisbee flies back the opposite way (screen left to right).

AUDIO: Ambient noise.

Shot 13 MCU The pet owner catches the returned Frisbee, then bends over to recieve the pet.

AUDIO: Good throw, Sparky, good!

Shot 14 CU The spectator reacts as if to say, Did I see what I thought I saw? Naah! and returns to reading.

AUDIO: (off screen) Okay, fella, time to go home.

Shot 15 WS After clipping the leash onto the unseen pet, the owner walks away, frame right.

AUDIO: Ambient noise.

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