Kris Pearn
9 Lessons (9h 57m)
9 Week(s)

Two Ways to Learn


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  1. Watch Video Lessons at Your Own Pace
  2. Assignments Included
  3. Peer Feedback
  4. Switch Courses as Often as You Like
  5. Access to Schoolism Webinar Archives

LIVE Classes

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  1. Watch Video Lessons with a Planned Curriculum
  2. Scheduled Assignments with Deadlines
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  4. Watch Video Lessons and Peer Feedback as Often as You'd Like
  5. Ability to Contact Instructor with Questions
  6. Digital Certificate of Completion
  7. Weekly Class Meetings LIVE on Zoom
  8. Access to Schoolism Webinar Archives

Course Description

What is the key to success in visual storytelling? A willingness to collaborate, the flexibility to evolve, and an understanding of the basic rules of cinematography, these three points will be the focus of this course. The best way to learn how to storyboard is by storyboarding, and here you will be provided with focused assignments and opportunities to do just that. With Kris Pearn as your instructor/ virtual pretend director, you will learn in a studio environment and feel what it's like to send ideas rocketing across the room. We all have stories to tell, and whether you have ambitions to tell these stories in live action, animation, or hard copy mediums, such as comics, this course will help you to develop those muscles of communication so that your ideas will have an opportunity to shine.

  • Adobe Photoshop

Lesson Plan

What is a Storyboard? What are they used for? In this lesson, Kris will start out with the basics, talking about the role of Boarding in the film-making process, and how it has evolved into an art form unique to the specified task of communicating ideas visually. There will be a discussion about the language of film, and a breakdown of basic Shots that are commonly used in Storyboards. With these shots, simple frame composition will be introduced to the conversation (a conversation that will continue for the duration of the course).

This week Kris will go through the fundamental element of any good storyboard... the shot. Where to place your camera in order to tell the story can make all the difference in how you communicate your ideas and this week, Kris will go through some of the basics in regards to the types of shots commonly used from the story artist's tool belt. Kris will also talk about the art of quick sketch and how to apply the shot choices into a rhythm using basic cutting techniques. Weee!

Continuity is a heartless master that can sink even the best drawn Storyboard. It is important to understand the nature of film and a healthy respect for continuity will help your audience follow your ideas without headaches or tears. Kris will teach the basics of Stage Line management, what rules there are written in books (it is true…there are books) and how to break those rules (screw em!). Students will be encouraged to think about their storytelling as through the lens of a camera and to be willful of every shot they create, knowing how it affects the larger picture of the story.

Interpreting a script is a skill all board artists must develop. When translating words into images, often tough decisions must be made, and since usually a picture is worth a thousand words, there is often a tremendous simplification in the boarding process. Sometimes it's the opposite (They fight means MANY pages of drawings for two dinky words). Kris will teach about breaking a script using thumbnails, schematics, and planning a rhythm for the overall arc of the story. What becomes sacred and what can be cut for time and efficiency. This class will continue to build on the ideas from week one and two, translating some of that theory into practical thought.

The choices we make as visual storytellers will often determine the response from the audience. This week, Kris will talk about staging for empathy and will talk and break down a variety of stories from Film, Television and Literature, and discuss the elements of storytelling that draw out an emotionally charged reaction from their audience. It all comes down to character...If Old Yeller can make you cry, and the Stooges can make you laugh, how is the camera helping get across the emotional weight of these stories? Should comedy be shot in Proscenium and is all drama in for a close up? When should we cut wide, and since I've paid for this dang crane, when do I get to use it!?!

One of the primary reasons people go to watch films is to escape boring normal lives for exciting dangerous ones for a couple of hours. This week, Kris will talk about building an action scene from scratch while still maintaining that pesky continuity and also hopefully adding some moments for character development. The camera can become a character in an action scene with violent cuts, hand held realism, speedy pans and slick choreography. It's all about rhythm baby and usually a boat load of drawings to communicate the energy and dynamic potential of any good action scene.

Often board artists are given the freedom to build their stories off of a beat outline of an idea, or loose premise. When given an assignment of this nature, the first step is to break the story…this is done by brainstorming, defining characters, building plot points, and even planting gags. What is the tone of the story? Whose story is it? Where does the character story start, and where does it end? Who is your audience? These are just a few of the questions Kris will be asking of his students in this week. Students will be expected to use techniques and lessons from previous weeks to help them tell their stories visually from scratch.

Pitching is one of the most important aspects of the Story Artist's career. Standing up in front of one's own idea and laying it naked at the feet of the unwashed is often a painful experience, and one all good pitchers have gone through. It never really does get easy, but Kris has some advice that may help. And while its not the same as working a live room, all the students will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas and stories over the internet. As with all aspects of the story boarding process, knowing what your story is about and who your characters are, will make all the difference in the world.

So you've made all these great, fun, loose, lively drawings, and you've pitched it to the world, what next? It is time to put these static images to the test, that is, to put them into time. Kris will talk about the process of working a story in Editorial, or in other words, in a contained time frame. When the drawings are sandwiched together and allowed to roll, it is always surprising to see what works and what doesn't. This final week, we will talk about the true meaning of the art form of Storyboarding, to be representative of a larger goal, namely, the beginnings of a show, film or video. This is, after all, the whole point of boarding. To see what sticks and what falls to floor for the sake of the Story.


Kris Pearn

Kris has worked for many years as a Storyboard artist in Television and Feature Animation in both the United States and Canada. Born on a farm in Southwestern Ontario, Kris attended Sheridan College and studied Classical Animation, graduating in 1996. From there he worked in Toronto and Ottawa as a freelance Animator, Layout Artist, Background and Character Designer. Moving to Phoenix Arizona, Kris worked for 20th Century Fox Feature Animation studios on projects such as Anastasia, Bartok the Magnificent, and Titan A.E. While living in the desert, he trained as an Animator but eventually made the switch to pre-production to follow his lifelong ambition to become a Story Artist. 

Following the career of a Storyboard Artist, he moved back to Toronto after the studio in Phoenix closed, and worked on many TV productions such as Rescue Heroes, Jacob Two Two, Franklin, Braceface, Handy Manny, Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, King Weirdo, and The Ripping Friends to name a few. 

In 2003, Kris moved back to the U.S. to work at Sony Pictures Animation. During his time at Sony, he worked as a Story Artist on Open Season and Surf's Up. Kris was nominated for an Annie Award for his work on Open Season. He was Head of Story on Sony's Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, and Co-Directed Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, his first Director credit, for which he received a Satellite Award nomination for Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature. In 2011, Kris was nominated for an Annie Award for Storyboarding in a Feature Production for his storyboarding work on Arthur Christmas. Kris continued his work as a Storyboard Artist on films like The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012), Hotel Transylvania (2012), Shaun the Sheep (2015), Open Season: Scared Silly (2015), and Early Man (2018). In 2020, Kris Co-Wrote and Directed the Netflix animated feature, The Willoughbys.


As well as working professionally in the Animation industry for over twenty years, he has also taught at Sheridan College in the Classical Animation program (and had a lot of fun while being on the other side of the desk), and illustrated the book Project Superhero, written by E. Paul Zehr.

Kris lives with his wife and two children in Southern California. He likes cowboy movies and good zombie flicks.