What is CG Layout?

Layout involves a bit of animation, lighting, editing, modeling, and a lot of composition and good use of camera for a clear narrative. Sometimes we follow what is indicated in the storyboards, sometimes we break away from it entirely and come up with our own beats and ideas, it's a very creative endeavor.

The process works somewhat like this: We layout artists receive the storyboards in the form of a movie, cut by the editor. We need to build up the first 3D representation of that storyboard, in a full cinematic form, by using the characters, sets and props created by the modeling department. We animate the characters (roughly, not very cleanly, it's all about efficiency and iteration), we sometimes model our own sets and props when they don't exist yet, we place some temp effects and lights, and most importantly, we make the choices of camera and composition.

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? What angle showcases the right attitude? How can we stage the characters in the frame to tell the story better? How can we create a dynamic composition in the frame? We have all of this in consideration, and apply a ton of cinematic tricks to make the action clear, the emotions specific, the framing and composition well crafted, and the timing precise. It's a bit of a generalist job, with a strong focus on visual storytelling. 

 

Here is a sample of layout sequences I’ve worked on.