“Story: It’s Not Just for Writers… Anymore” by Caldwell

  • ©Craig Caldwell



Entry Number: 07


    Story: It's Not Just for Writers... Anymore

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    Who Should Attend
    All SIGGRAPH attendees, from professionals to students, who desire a solid understanding of the fundamentals of story structure used in creating animated films, VFX, VR, and interactive apps/games.

    When studios, directors, and producers say “it is about the story”, everyone nods in agreement. There is an assumption that everyone working on the project is familiar with story structure because it’s so critical to the final success of the project. No matter how great the technology and visuals are, if the work doesn’t connect with viewers, the project can die not long after release. But creating a story remains a mysterious process for many in computer animation, VFX, games, and VR because screenwriting has never been their primary focus.

    This course is for computer scientists, technical artists, designers, and visual artists who want to know more about storytelling. It covers the universal elements of story (plot, characters, and narrative structure); emphasizes story elements in context (theme, characters, setting, conflict, etc.) and their relationship to classic story structure (setup, inciting incident, rising action, climax, resolution, etc); and analyzes conflict (internal, external, environmental), turning points, cause and effect, archetype vs stereotypes, inciting incident, and how choice defines character. In all stories, there must be questions raised: What is at stake (survival, safety, love, esteem, etc.)? What motivates (inciting incident) the main character (protagonist)? Will that be enough to move the character from the ordinary (where they are comfortable) to a different world (where the action takes place)? And what “changes” are necessary for the story to be dramatic? These are just a few of the storytelling elements necessary for engaging the viewer.
    As Larry Brooks has said: “Story may seem obvious and intuitive. It’s not.”

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