Storyboard Commentary: Drawing Pans (Panorama Shots)

In today's storyboard commentary, the topic is Pans. "Pan" is short for "Panorama Shot," a camera move in which we move the viewer from left to right, or right to left, or vertically or diagonally.

The video window below looks small, but if you click on the full-screen button (at the bottom right of the video), it'll look nice and BIG!

Here are some examples of pans from my storyboards on SpongeBob, Phineas & Ferb and Hey Arnold:
SpongeBob-PAN-Plankton- FUN-Show Phineas-Ferb-Pan-Old-Doofenshmirtz Phineas-Ferb-DiagPan-movie-theater Phineas-Ferb-Pan-Perry-Doofenshmirtz Phineas-Ferb-Pan-PerryPhineas-Ferb-Pan-Danville Phineas-Ferb-Pan-Race Hey_Arnold_SallysComet-PAN Hey_Arnold_MagicShow-Pan

I've been answering many of your questions in the blog comments, while other questions are answered in the videos. If your question hasn't been answered yet, It's probably because I'm trying to answer them in the context of the topic of the I promise I'll get to them all ^_^

Next storyboarding commentary video:
"When To Cut"
Other posts in this series:


Robert said...

Thank you so much for these informative posts. I'm planning on applying to schools for animation the coming winter and I want to learn as much about the different jobs there are in the industry. I was wondering, is it easy for storyboard artists to jump between film and television? Does it require a different style of storyboarding, and what percentile of storyboard artists do you think work in both?

Roberto Severino said...

I hope I'm not commenting too much on your blog, but these posts are way too good for me to ignore and not say anything about. You're doing a great service for animation students everywhere by posting knowledge that before would have taken years of experience to learn independently. Storyboard week has already been a success the way I see it.

Bob Flynn said...

HA—YOU'RE the guy responsible for that classic Plankton shot? That image is burned into my brain. Great video—I like the "give the eye something to follow" tip for pans. I've used that a few times—certainly feels more natural.

Yazzo B. said...

Thanks a bunch for this Sherm, lovin the videos so far! I agree with Roberto - anyone who's interested in storyboarding should find this enormously helpful.

Thanks for the comment about the trans and slug lines too...I was wondering about that.

Severin said...

Ah, actually, I have a very pertinent question regarding pans! What are some ways to describe action happening within a pan? Perhaps the camera is panning along with the character as he's walking down the street. Then, another character notices the first and runs up to him, and the two continue walking along, continue the pan. It's hard to describe so much action in a single drawing, but you also want to get across that the camera hasn't stopped for any of these shots.

Sorry to dump such a huge question on you! Your posts are an inspiration at a time when I'm quickly building a storyboard revisionist portfolio, so I really appreciate your efforts.

Mike Garvey said...

These are great! I also loved your tip about using Post-It notes for frames so that you can rearrange sequences (On Man vs. Art). I get the impression from these that you don't use standard storyboard sheets, that these pans are kind of one-offs.

TMALO70 said...

Thank You very much Sherm, for sharing this. As a Cartoonist who is always looking to expand His Storytelling Skills, I'm looking forward to more of these kind of posts.

Thanks Again.


Thank you Sherm. Great info about giving the eye something to follow. And thanks for breaking down what TRANS & SLUG are as well. The more info the better. These tutorials as amazing.

Ahmed GUERROUACHE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ahmed GUERROUACHE said...

herm, thank again for sharing your knowledge.
I have a question about the 180° rule and crossing the line : do you think it is so important that we shouldn 't cross the line ever, or is there some situation where you can't follow the rule but the board continuity is still OK ? I m not talking about breaking the rule just to have the audience get confused on purpose. In fact, when cheking a storyboard, I hardly focuse on this rule, but maybe there are some case when tolerance is admitted.
By the way,there is a good post about this from Mark kennedy's sevencamels.blogspot, posted on December 24 . I 'd like to have your opinion about that , thank a lot.

Sherm said...

Hi Robert -- I have known a couple of storyboard artists that work both in animation and live-action. Pete von Sholly and Rob Bihun are two that come to mind. But there's no reason to think that they would be any difficulty in moving from one to the other.

Certainly there are differences... live-action storyboards tend not to be so posed-out because the actual actors take care of all the acting. In an animation storyboard, it's the storyboard artists job to do all the acting :-)

Live-action storyboard artists work for a different union in animation storyboard artists, so there doesn't tend to be too much crossover because the people that are in one field tend to work and network together.
Roberto -- there's no such thing as commenting too much! Thank you for your very kind words... I appreciate hearing from you :-)
Bob -- that Plankton shot is the sort of storyboard panel that makes you want to spend all day lavishing detail on one drawing. It's a dangerous habit, but frequently the results make it worth it. Thanks very much!
YazzoB --Thanks! I'm glad you find them helpful
Severin -- that's always been a tricky problem. There isn't one good answer to describe how to do that, but frequently the solution that I've used is to draw one big pan, but underneath the pan I will draw a few sequential thumbnail drawings of each character showing the various actions. A little bit of explanatory text in the scene description will help out a lot... that way you can ensure that the camera will not stop unless you want to.
hi Mike -- yes, Post-it notes are a storyboard artists best friend! You are correct when you assume that these pans standalone on the storyboard page. Sometimes, for a difficult or elaborate pan I will use a separate piece of paper just for the pan alone.
TMALO70 -- it's certainly my pleasure! Thank U. so much for your comments :-)-
Hi Frank -- you're very welcome :-) I was glad to get the question about the translation line and the slug line... a lot of times, those little details can become big mysteries unless somebody explains them. That kind of thing is what this whole series of posts is about. Thanks again.

Sherm said...

hello Ahmed -- Mark Kennedy's post about the 180 rule is a fantastic article. Unfortunately, some people make this concept way too difficult... but I think that Mark broke it down very nicely.

When I talk to storyboard artists about this, I try to make it as simple as possible. In fact, I never even mention the term 180° rule -- it already starts to sound complicated, as if you have to break out your protractor and calculator! I preferred his refer to it as the stage line. All you really need to remember is to keep the characters' relative positions the same until you actually see those positions change on screen.

For example, the character on the left should always stay on the left until we see him move. The character on the right should always be on the right until we see him move. If characters need to rearrange themselves within a scene, it's best to show that movement in a wide shot which serves as a new establishing shot for all the characters.

The only reason this rule exists is because it mimics the way we naturally look at any interaction between people or objects or sports teams for that matter. When you're sitting in a football stadium, you never confused about which way the ballplayers are running. One team has a goal on the left, and the other team has a goal on the right. If you see a close-up of a football player running to the right, you automatically know which gold is headed for.

The stage line rule is one of the most important cinematic conventions because it keeps the audience from getting disoriented or confused. Sometimes a director will break this rule on purpose to achieve a disorienting effect, or a jarring transition. I generally like to say that you can break any rule at any time as long as you have a good reason for doing it :-)

Robert said...

Thanks for the response! Actually, by film I was still referring to animated films. Does that change your answer?

Casey Crowe said...

Wow, what a wealth of great info. Thanks Sherm! One quick question about pans: how would one board a whip pan? I'd imagine there's some generally accepted way to handle that but I've never seen it on a storyboard before.