‘The sun thief’: storyboard analysis


The final project of the 2D Animation and Art students of 2022 is ‘The sun thief’. A short film that tells the story of Una, a brave woman who defies the gods to save her village, affected by water scarcity, drought and high temperatures. In this post we will analyse the work developed in the area of storyboarding by Antonio Santamaría, teacher at L’Idem.


The storyboard for ‘The sun thief’

“For the final year short films, I usually select two students per project”, Antonio explained. “However, in this promotion, the interest in the profession of story artist and the great quality that the students have shown during the course of the degree, led me to decide to increase the number of participants to three per short film”. As a storyboard supervisor, our teacher not only takes into account their artistic quality, but also their seriousness and interest in the subject.

‘The sun thief’ is a story with classical roots with a modern and geometric appearance where visual strength is very important, both in scenarios and character design. These two facets had to be successfully resolved from the storyboard. Despite being a pretentious story, in the sense of explaining the creation of a God, it is explained in a linear and chronological way, and marks temporal ellipses with chained transitions. The setting of the scenes does the rest.

The short film begins with a deadly drought, a landscape in which the days seem endless. It then moves through a freezing, terrifyingly wild night and ends up balancing itself in a kind of paradisiacal oasis where all the components are just right. “These changes of scenery and situations were the key to being able to divide the story between the three story artists involved,” Antonio explained.

  • Sofía Salinas was in charge of the beginning of the story, where the drought and the dry climate took centre stage; of the introduction to the temple and Una’s petition to the Sun God.
  • Yuliia Chaychuk was in charge of the central part of the story: the robbery, the escape, the fall of the night, at first peaceful and calm, at the end icy and deadly.
  • And finally, the conclusion comes from the hands of Alba García with a storyboard where the action, the drama and the denouement with the birth of the Goddess Moon became their greatest challenge.

According to Antonio, “the three students have always shown interest and potential for storyboarding”. “And it’s true that the work has flowed as well as the story required. The only guidelines I gave them were to think big, to try to develop a kind of cinematically interesting and coherent narrative. This translated into big spaces, few first plans, a wonderful attention to Screen Direction as the path back and forth between the village and the Sun God temple were perfectly defined. “The sun thief is a story in which the mise-en-scène and the composition become more important”.


The importance of music

“As I usually tell the students, nowadays, when making storyboards in order to create an animatic, it is important that they keep in mind an extra narrative element that is not drawn: the sound effects”, remarked Antonio. And, in the case of this short film, the use of these sound effects reinforces the viewer’s immediate understanding that “is experiencing a drought with desert sounds and the sound of insects roasting in the sun, for example”. Or the arrival of the icy night with silences and a breeze rippling over the drawing. Or the echoing footsteps as we enter the temple, which make us understand the grandeur of the hall. Or the party music in the distance when Una returns for the first time to the village at night. Or the finale in paradise in equilibrium, where there is room for the sounds of birds, small springs of water or laughing children. “The three students have also been in charge of setting the soundtrack for this part in a magnificent way”, confirmed our Storyboard teacher.