Tumble Loop (3 of 6) – Thumbnails and Blocking

Tumble Loop (3 of 6) – Thumbnails and Blocking

Here we are; Chapter 3 in our Loopventure! So far we’ve made a background and designed a character. Usually at this point, if we’re making a longer piece with multiple shots, we would make a storyboard and an animatic. But because we knew this was going to be a one shot loop we can skip those boring steps and move into Thumbnails!

“What are thumbnails and why should I care, when each precious passing second brings me closer to death?” You might wondering. Thumbnails are crude and quick small sketches that help you figure out how your character will act, and where he will stand (this is called Blocking). You should care because the pursuit of knowledge and understanding is what gives our lives value, and separates us from the beasts of the field.

So, I think the most entertaining way to show the blocking and thumbnail sketches is to post a few edits of the same joke, and you will be able to see what visual information was added and removed. Loops are especially challenging to plan jokes for because at the end of the animation, everything has to return to how it was at the beginning. Witness my own madness as I over complicate a very simple joke and eventually dial it back.

Version 01

The first cut. It was pretty straightforward, but most of my early cuts ran too long and it made the video a little boring as a result.

Version 03


I started adding other steps and information to explain why the hatch would release. Eventually I had the idea of oxygen escaping and blowing the hatch open. I thought if I added a pressure element, it might help hide the joke. I also added a sound mix to try to help figure out the beats. I also liked the idea of the Astronaut using duct tape to fix and oxygen leak.

Version 6.

Then I added even more information. This is where I started to think that things might be getting out of hand. The lights! The Steam! The Drill! The Toolbox! There was so much information that just wasn’t reading properly.

Version 7.

Eventually I decided that I had over complicated the whole thing. It’s a simple bit of slapstick comedy and trying to add additional comic beats and visual information was starting to make the whole piece too long and too complicated.

I think a better joke teller would have gotten this right the first time. It took me 7 tries get the thumbnails to a point where I was happy with them. It’s another example of how less is more with a joke, I always want to stretch a piece out and add other smaller gags in, but ultimately the joke is; a confident astronaut forgets the teachings of Sir Isaac Newton and dies or is humiliated because of it! Some jokes work better when they’re short and sweet.
The next chapter in the series will be about Keyframes!