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Oscars 2015

The blueprint for Oscar winners

Kai Ryssdal Feb 17, 2015
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Oscars 2015

The blueprint for Oscar winners

Kai Ryssdal Feb 17, 2015
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Months before any cameras roll, sets are built or lights are set up, Alex Hillkurtz is already working on the movie.

As a storyboard artist, Hillkurtz sits down with the director to create a detailed blueprint that’s used throughout production, drawing the major beats of the entire movie.

“Storyboards are kind of a comic book version of the film,” Hillkurtz says. “I’ll do little thumbnail sketches, I’ll flesh them out a little bit and basically I’ll come up with a stack of drawings that represent all the camera angles for any given scene.”

And the storyboards dictate more than just where the camera should sit. Hillkurtz is one of the first people to apply the specific, movie-making craft to the script and the director’s vision, so his work can have ripple effects on every aspect of the production.

He’s done this for dozens of movies, including “Argo,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Anchorman,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Almost Famous” and most recently “Unbroken,” which is nominated for three Academy Awards. There’s no award for storyboarding, but that’s why Hillkurtz is the first in our series of unsung heroes of the Oscars.

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