From the category archives:


Breaking Bad Storyboard Revealed!

by Ted Slampyak on September 4, 2013

in Illustration,Storyboards

In honor of the much-talked-about approaching series finale to Breaking Bad, a show filmed here in New Mexico, here, in its entirety, is the storyboard sequence I drew for the show back in season 4. This was for the episode entitled “Problem Dog.” (SPOILER ALERT: Don’t look at them if you haven’t seen the episode but plan to!)

Breaking Bad_Page_1 Breaking Bad_Page_2 Breaking Bad_Page_3 Breaking Bad_Page_4 Breaking Bad_Page_5

In the script, Walt uses the car’s cigarette lighter. It was matches in the final version. And I think I had the idea of using the car’s paperwork to light the tank, but I don’t recall what it originally was. A rag, perhaps? I’m fuzzy on that.Breaking Bad_Page_6 Breaking Bad_Page_7 Breaking Bad_Page_8 Breaking Bad_Page_9

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Lemonade Mouth

by Ted Slampyak on August 12, 2010

in Storyboards

Lemonade Mouth Storyboard

Storyboard panel from a scene from Lemonade Mouth

I’m in the midst of drawing storyboards for the Disney Channel movie Lemonade Mouth, which is filming here in New Mexico right now. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Mark Peter Hughes, about a group of students who start a rock band.

The Director, Patricia Riggen, and Director of Photography Checco Varese, are great fun to work with, and the whole job has been a joy! Well, except for the long hours and Saturdays, but that’s show biz for ya.

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Terminator Salvation Storyboards

by Ted Slampyak on May 21, 2009

in Storyboards

Chase sequence storyboard -- click on image for larger view

Chase sequence storyboard -- click on image for larger view

With the premiere of Terminator Salvation this weekend (and the cast & crew screening I went to last night) I can finally begin to go public with some of the work I did on the film.

This is part of a chase sequence I drew for the film. I assume it’s okay to publicize, since it’s shown rather prominently in The Art of Terminator Salvation (available at Amazon — just click on title). It’s on pages 110 and 111 — but they went top-to-bottom first, not left-to-right, so be warned.

This sequence, though it’s supposed to take place near Griffith Park Observatory, was filmed in the foothills of the Sandia mountains, just a mile or so from Jennifer’s parents’ place. The whole film was made around here, using many local landmarks like the Taos gorge bridge, the Very Large Array and the Albuquerque Rail Yard, making it at times look like the highest-budget home movie in history.

Much of this storyboard sequence is different in the final film. For instance, it’s a day scene now, not night. Storyboards are just as important to directors and cinematographers in deciding what to change as in deciding what to keep, and as a springboard for new ideas.

I was always asked to add my own ideas into sequences if I thought they’d add to them. The scanning sequence, above, with the wire-frame look to it, was my idea, and in the final film they do something somewhat similar. There are other moments in the final film that were completely my contribution — extremely small things, but they’re there, including a really scary moment revealing a threat to the hero. To be able to work with creative people like director McG, DP Shane Hurlbut and head storyboard artist Adolfo Martínez Pérez, who invited new ideas and discussion of story elements, was very rewarding, and a real treat.

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Storyboards: Ads and Music Videos

by Jennifer Rae Kinyak on December 31, 2008

in Storyboards

We love working with advertising agencies to come up with storyboards and comps for their campaigns. One of Ted’s greatest strengths as a storyboard artist is his ability to take a verbal description of a scene and understand what it means to make it visual. Art directors say he gets it.

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Storyboards: Wildfire

by Jennifer Rae Kinyak on December 31, 2008

in Storyboards

Wildfire was in the front guard of the Hollywood Invasion we’ve been experiencing lately in Albuquerque. The show, which may or may not have finished its run last spring, took place in California…but where in California can you see a Ron Bell billboard from the stands at a horse race?

When the lead actress in Wildfire, Genevieve Cortese, saw Ted’s storyboards, she wanted to cut her hair to match his drawing. The producers wouldn’t let her.

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Storyboards: Hamlet 2 and Swing Vote

by Jennifer Rae Kinyak on December 31, 2008

in Storyboards

Now that Albuquerque is shaping up to be a real player in the movie business, we’ve had the privilege of working on a lot of interesting storyboard projects. (We can’t wait until we’re able to post some of our Terminator Salvation boards after the movie comes out!) Hamlet 2 is a twisted comedy featuring Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, and Elizabeth Shue. It takes place in Tucson but it was filmed here. (On the other hand, High School Musical takes place here but was filmed in Salt Lake City…) Swing Vote is a Kevin Costner vehicle about a man who somehow becomes the deciding voter in a presidential election.

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About Our Storyboard Services

by Ted Slampyak on December 18, 2008

in About,Storyboards

storyboardaboutStoryboards have to do a lot. They need to get across the action, blocking and what’s going on. They also need to get across specific camera views, movements and effects. Lighting effects are sometimes needed. All of these elements need to blend together and give a general feel that works for the scene, to show everyone in the various departments how their work will contribute to that general feel.

And, on top of all that, it helps if they’re nice to look at.

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It’s a Wrap — I think…!

by Ted Slampyak on July 10, 2007

in Storyboards

The storyboard job is finished now. At least I think it is. I sent in my batch of “final” panels this afternoon and haven’t heard back. That’s not uncommon — they’re incredibly busy, of course, and have better things to do than tell me that they don’t need anything from me. Since my scheduled time with them is up, I’ll just assume it all went well unless I hear otherwise from them.

One of the hardest aspects of self-employment is the need for objective thinking about your work. I go to every new client with a little trepidation, a little nervousness. Even though I know my work is good, there’s no guarantee that someone else will think so, and if their expectations are different from mine, there could be trouble. And when I’m being paid for my time, as opposed to charging for the project, I’m sensitive to the possibility that a mistake of mine will cost my client a good deal of money.

Luckily, they seemed to like my work. I liked it. And hopefully they liked it enough to recommend me to the next movie that comes to town. I’m ready!

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Making Use of the Time You’ve Got

by Ted Slampyak on July 3, 2007

in Storyboards

So the storyboard job is well underway; I wrote about it in a previous post. I’m drawing storyboards for a few sequences in the new Kevin Costner comedy Swing Vote. The work is going very well, indeed — so well that I find myself with plenty of down time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love down time — especially when I have other projects to work on, like the Annie comic strip which needs a week’s worth of strips, six dailies and a color Sunday, done every week. By starting early, over the weekend, and putting in evenings, I got the week’s worth done today, just in time for the July 4 holiday — I’ll be able to relax tomorrow.

But the reason this down time is significant is that the film company’s paying me by the day. I’m getting a day rate, for five days total, and to be honest, they’re not working me very hard so far.

Of course, if it doesn’t bother them it shouldn’t bother me. We’re not behind schedule, in the least — on the contrary, they might love the latest revisions I sent them this afternoon and not want me to go back and tighten them up, and I’ll be done two days early.

But when I agreed to work five days, I committed myself to them for those days. The other work I’ve done was never at the expense of their work — it was only done while I was waiting to hear back from them, after finishing the work so far and sending it in for review. But to part of me it still feels like I’m cheating, like I’m getting away with something.

I remind myself that as long as I make myself available to them — and I haven’t made any other appointments or commitments for these days so that I would be available to them — then it’s okay if, while I’m waiting to hear from them, I take care of other work. It’s actually a great arrangement for me, obviously. The director seems happy with the work so far, as does the director of photography. So it’s all good, right?

In fact, as a freelancer whose time is valuable I have a duty to make the most of the down time, to take full advantage of the gaps in my storyboarding workload to get other work out of the way. To not do so might make me feel more loyal to the film company — for reasons that don’t even make any sense as I’m writing this — but they’d be at the expense of my business. I can’t afford that kind of luxury.

Just as a good freelancer needs to accept without shame when things aren’t going well, a good freelancer also has to accept, without guilt, when things are.

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New Job Decisions

by Ted Slampyak on June 29, 2007

in Illustration,Storyboards

It didn’t take long. We’d been back in New Mexico for three days when I got a lead on a possible storyboard job for a movie being made here, the new Kevin Costner comedy “Swing Vote”. I got the job, and start today. The job should last through next week, with the day off for the Fourth, of course.

I’ve done loads of presentation storyboards for commercials, and a few production boards for films, but no matter how many I do, starting a new one is always a little scary. Everyone has a different approach to storyboarding — some directors want you on site, reporting to them often, and some prefer you work at your own office, emailing or faxing the work as you do it. Some don’t really care.

I prefer working in my office at home. Maybe because I’m such a homebody, and maybe because I like the freedom of not having someone looking over my shoulder. I’ve never had a problem with a director not liking my work — I may have to make revisions or redraw some panels, but not often, and I’ve never had a director or client think my work isn’t good — but I still get anxious that someone will look over my should and tell me I’m doing it all wrong. I’d rather get that kind of news over the phone, or better yet, by email.

But maybe I’d enjoy being in the film production offices for this job. I don’t know yet what they’re going to want me to do, but if they want me to stay on-site and work, I’ll give it a try. Maybe I’ll split my time between the two, based on the availability of the director, or director of photography or whomever I’m going to be reporting to. It might be fun working in the offices with the film’s art department, and would certainly give more networking opportunities than if I stayed hidden away at home.

The other consideration when I get a job, especially a storyboarding job like this one, where I’m hired for the day and am supposed to devote my time exclusively to it, is dealing with the other work that I have. Even times such as now, when I don’t have any other freelance gigs going on, I still have Annie to work on every week. (Luckily, Jazz Age is on a hiatus right now, so there isn’t that to worry about.) Fortunately, there will be plenty of time this weekend and next week in the evenings to keep up with the little orphan child.

I always remind myself, even if I have a week to get a job done — like Annie — and even if there are no other jobs looming, to get the work done as quickly as possible, while still pacing myself and not stressing out about it. You never know when another job will pop up, and if your other work is done, or at least well underway, it’ll be a lot easier to take on the new stuff.

I won’t be posting any images from the storyboard job here, until after the movie comes out. But I will post updates on how the work is going, and what it’s like there. Wish me luck!

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