I've been watching quite a bit of Samurai Jack again and been rediscovering it's cinematic brilliance. I usually leave it on when I am drawing or about to sleep. Though this particular sequence from Jack and the Scarabs episode kept me awake for a good while because it was so emotionally intense.
So I decided to analyze the sequence a bit and see if I can learn the magic of storyboarding the amount of intensity that kept me awake at three in the morning.
I apologize in advance that the thumbnails might be too small and I used auto capture so I missed key poses and actions in some scenes.
Here are my notes and findings:
1) The sequence begins with jack traveling from screen left to screen right. most of the shots are pretty horizontal and even when the shots change to vertical, there is plenty of time in between so the intensity is still kept very low.
2) Jack is shocked to find that the tomb that keeps the minions of Set is opened. The intensity here is not visual but more character based. Throughout the series, Jack is usually calm and rarely scared of anything from the get go.
Then Jack gets punched by off screen threat even before he knew the punch was coming.
3) Jack is in kept in close up shot and in the middle. Middle is most vulnerable position to be in since there is no definite direction to defend an attack from. The attacks are still from off screen and from both direction sporadically at a very fast pace (4-8 frames).
4) This is the very first time Jack lays his eyes on his attacker(s). You see death before you die they say..
5) Relationship. Jack is in the bottom left corner and is moving even deeper while the minion of Set is coming into the frame from the upper right position, eventually dominating the frame.
6) Jack is retreating to the left. Left is where he started his journey and also the direction where he found the opened tomb of the minion of Set. It's not the direction he would want to go.
7) Jack is still taking beating from all directions. This cut is interesting because the scene with Jack ends with him looking screen left. However, the next scene, we see a minion of Set also looking left, indicating it is right behind jack and jack is unaware of it.
8) Bit of breather for the audience. I left the similar framed undeleted for you to get an idea of how long Jack blocks the attack for. The direction he is being pushed away is left.
9) This is first long shot in a while. At first, Jack is alone in the frame with no threat near him.
10) but that quickly changes as all three minions of Set overwhelms the frame.(but always two at a time to emphasize that there is always one lurking somewhere else) Also, note the difference in size between Jack and the minions of Set.
11) Size relationship in the frame.
12) Similar deal as 9,10. Still in the middle and surrounded.
13) size relationship
14) This one is interesting. Jack manages to cut off one of minions's arm and minions weapon flies to the screen right (15) and gets impaled on the wall. (cont. at 17)
16) Bit of breather as Jack manages a vital attack on a minion. The minion rises upward in pain thus setting the vertical direction but quickly heals and reaches for its weapon to the left along with a camera move that changes the screen direction to horizontal.
Also note, exaggeration in size relationship for mood.
17) Minion's weapon we saw in (15) which was on the right is now on the left. This makes complete sense in terms of the locations of the character position and the environment but visually, switching what was left to right by changing camera angle also adds to the intensity.
18) Jack in the middle attacks coming from off screen again.
19) Jack gets pushed to the right and finally gets a solid direction to travel to. This is assisted by the fact that the next scene, (20) the minions of Set is fairly far away and not coming from the right (where Jack is running towards)
20) All three minions of Set are in the long shot and they even get into extreme long shot in the later scenes thus finally giving Jack and the audience a moment of relief.