Layout & Final LayoutAsset Creation
Layout is a central component of the storytelling process. Working from storyboards, Layout Artists use a film’s characters, sets, props and cameras to stage, block, and shoot the film, shot by shot.
Cinematography, staging, and rough character animation are key elements of a Layout Artist’s skill set. Additionally, layout involves a bit of animation, lighting, editing, modeling, and a lot of composition and good use of camera for a clear narrative.
Layout Artists can follow what is indicated in the storyboards, but sometimes break away from it entirely and come up with their own beats and ideas, making it a very creative endeavor.
Layout Artists receive storyboards in the form of a movie, cut together by the Editor. Layout builds the first 3D representation of that storyboard, in a full cinematic form, by using the characters, sets and props created by the Modeling department.
Layout Artists animate the characters roughly at this stage of production, working efficiently through numerous iterations. In early stages of production, Layout Artists will sometimes model their own sets and props if they don’t already exist, and also place temporary effects and lights, in the effort of making the important choices of camera and composition.
Considerations include: What lens frames this shot better? What f-stop? What type of camera move expresses the right feeling and emotion? How do the shots cut together? Should shots be added for clarity, or combine or remove shots that are unnecessary? What angle showcases the right attitude? How can the characters be staged in the frame to tell the story better? Are we showing this story from the right point of view? How can we create a dynamic composition in the frame?
Layout Artists also apply many cinematic tricks to make the action clear, the emotions specific, the framing and composition well crafted, and the timing precise.
After a shot leaves Layout, it goes to Animation to be animated and then comes back to Layout Finaling, where all the final "perfecting" of the shot is done through polishing the camera movement, including the framing and tightening the focus animation. It is in Layout Finaling that the set's composition and continuity gets completed. Additionally, how the shot relates to, and cuts with the other shots around it is where all that gets finalized and approved by the directors and department heads.