Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Character Arcs...by Matthew Luhn from Pixar

Early last month I went to San Francisco for GDC to check things out on the expo floor. There were also panels as well. My sweet friend Vivid went to a panel about Character Arcs done by Matthew Luhn a Storyboard Artist from Pixar. She took some awesome notes....I felt that it would be nice to share this with all of you and here they are below,

Story Images and Character Arcs (Matthew Luhn - Storyboard artist)

Character should be the focus in the story, not the movie structure

In order to figure out the Story Structure, you must first figure out your character

Story Structure:
- Exposition
> Starting the world in the beginning (setup)
> Telling who the character is
> Keeping it short...
- Inciting Incident
- Progressive complication
- Crisis
- Climax
- Conclusion

Finding Your Character
- Fears > fear from childhood and still to this day
- Strengths > Not talents, but character traits
- Weaknesses > Things that said behind your back
- Dark Side > Lowest traits
- Traits that get them into trouble
- Traits they admire in other characters

A fear or deeply rooted passion should be what drives your character in story

i.e. Woody
- Fears: Being abandoned
- Strengths: Leader, smart, caring
- Weaknesses: Bossy, arrogant
- Dark side: Lie, hurt, steal
- Traits that get them into trouble: Bossy, arrogant, worrying
- Traits they admire in other characters: Confidence, admired by kids

i.e. Marlin
- Fears: Losing loved ones
- Strengths: Loving dad, protective
- Weaknesses: Pessimistic, Over protective
- Dark side: Resentful, hateful
- Traits that get them into trouble: Worrier, overprotective
- Traits they admire in others: Optimistic, care free
Once you know who your character is, then you'll be able to know how they would act in different situations.

Rex > Neurotic
- Other toy threatens your authority

Mr. Potato Head > Grumpy

Jessie > Fearless
- Trapped in the attic

Hamm > Mr. Know it all

- Left behind on a road trip
- Broken parts
- Moving day

// Childhood Teacher
- How would your childhood teacher react to a different situation?

// Creating Character
• Finding Your Character
• Character Arc
• Character Inspiration/Images

// A character's difficult path to grow through an emotional fear, limitation...
They either have to:
- Learning to Care
- Learning to have Courage

Two things that are going on in a story:
- Inner conflict
What the character is dealing with, overcoming their fears, etc.
- Outer conflict
What the character have to overcome, the plot of the story

//The crux of the story should be on Inner, not Outer, conflicts.

// Every supporting character must help the main character development throughout the movie/story; they must have a reason why they're there... if not, remove.

// Anybody can give the protagonist a happy ending - by just giving them what they want. But you need to restore their soul instead.

// The character arc can be a... Happy Ending or a Tragedy.

// It's how the CHARACTER CHANGES at the end that illustrates the THEME.
> The inner characters struggles illustrate the them throughout the story.

- Who the character was?
- What the character learns?
- Who the character becomes?

i.e. Unknown
Who the character was: Amnesiac Spy, assassin, paranoid
What the character learns: He's not who he thinks he is
Who the character becomes: A retired spy who cares, learn to trust

// Character inspiration
- Can come from images, locked away inside of us in the form of: memories...
- Make a list of the first 5 cars that come to you from early on in your life > Now choose one that seems vivid to you.

// Then setup a list of question:

- Where are you?
- Are you in the car or out of the car?
- If you are inside, which seat are you in?
- What are you doing?
- What time of the day/night does it seem to be?
- Why are you there?
- Who else is there?
- About how old are you?

// I started thinking about an image/toy from a childhood that inspired me...

Let me know what you think? Hopefully this post will be helpful for the ones that read it.

I'll check you all later.




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