Storyboarding blog Jen Dewar

Aardman Academy: Storyboarding blog - Jen Dewar

You know when you get an excited prickle in your stomach? It can happen when you make eye contact with a person you have a huge crush on, or when you’re going on holiday and the plane is just about to go really, really fast (ha. Remember that?).

Well, I was doing some research into how to build out my portfolio and I saw the Aardman Academy offering this storyboarding workshop and when my stomach prickled excitedly, I knew it was for me.

I had previously looked into storyboarding classes online but there wasn’t much on offer and I had no clue about which ones would be a good investment and which ones would be the equivalent of me voluntarily handing money over to a con man.

I have a background in advertising so my knowledge of filming came from the one day of shooting I had seen from a distance during a work placement, and I wanted to expand my skill set.

I had signed up for a couple of other online courses at the start of lockdown naively thinking I would emerge from the Covid cocoon as a superior being. However, I swiftly learned that the basic formula of the online class was to have someone talk at you for a very, very long time.

With this assumption in place, I felt prepared for my Aardman Academy Zoom class with the two necessities that had served me well previously, a flask (for tea, not a hip flask or anything) and a pillow for those chairs you swore were comfortable when you first bought them.

Now it was made apparent from the start that this zoom class was different from any other online courses I had done. Firstly, our classes were a smaller capacity than expected which was great, as I had anticipated being a faceless stranger is a zoom full of other faceless strangers. And secondly, when we were introduced to Sam Horton and he outlined what was to be a very hands on, practical curriculum for the day. With the plan in place our adventure began.

Storyboarding Zoom

Sam was interesting and engaging and before I had even a chance to notice my numb bum we were stopping for lunch.

Having expected to be muted for a full day of listening to someone explain theories at me, I had learned my first lesson from the storyboarders at Aardman and that was to show, not tell.

I knew I was enjoying myself as soon as my flatmate had to tell me to STOP TALKING as I was shoving a sandwich in my mouth. Rude, but I was very excited.

The second part of the course proved to be just as engaging and we were split into smaller groups where I could meet and learn from the other exceptionally interesting people on the course. We were to work together on a group scene and present back to the class.

Before I knew it the day was coming to an end but I knew that I had learned and what’s even better, actually retained some of the lessons Sam taught to us, which I now use as basic life lessons because they are just good sense.

Life lesson 1: Always know the story inside and out. If it’s your job to know it, know it. You will be more confident and have better ideas if you are prepared.

Life lesson 2: Plan, scribble and then you have to just do it (not just a nike slogan). Starting is always going to be the hard part but there comes a point when you are not “researching” anymore, you are faffing.

Life lesson 3 (my favourite): Have Fun. Our ten year old selves would be very proud right now. How lucky are we that we get to be in an industry where we draw and come up with ideas?

I’ve been a huge fan of Aardman for as long as I can remember (even managed to reference the documentary “A Grand Night In” in my masters dissertation) and I was more than impressed with the quality of the storyboarding course offered by Aardman Academy. But I think the main thing that I will take away from this course is that I actually, properly, enjoyed myself, and that’s how the best learning should be.

Want to take part in the next Storyboarding workshop? Register your interest here.

Add clips to the playlist by clicking the stars