Rudolph Jr.

Back in August of this year, I was hired to storyboard a new animated Christmas music video for Capitol Records’ recording of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as sung by Burl Ives. You remember ol’ Burl, right? He was the narrator of the original Rankin-Bass production of Rudolph back in the 1960s.

Well, this new production was accomplished by the Fantoons Studio using computer graphics, but they did a great job making it look like stop-motion puppet animation. Here’s the video as it appears on YouTube:

Okay, I know you are all wondering, so let me set the story straight – why doesn’t Rudolph have a red nose in the cartoon? Well, despite Capitol Records having the ownership of that recording, they don’t own the rights to the visual of a reindeer with a red nose. That right is likely owned by whoever owns the actual song, thus my director’s invention of the floating red orb.

Storyboarding is not always a very glamorous art form. You don’t always have the time to make frameable pieces of art. My drawings for this were fairly simple sketches due to only having about three days to board the whole thing, but in that time, I whipped out about 260 drawings based on a written outline from director David Calcano. What IS important is what those drawings communicate: composition, camera angles and movements, transitions, sets, props, costumes, indications of lighting, acting – basically all those aspects of filmmaking that you see when you watch a movie or TV show.

Thought I’d share with you a few of my storyboard panels, followed by the corresponding final frames from the video. I was really impressed with how the artists who came after me really used the boards as inspiration for what they did in the final video – I especially was tickled to see how faithful they were to my portraits of the other reindeer at the beginning, yet rendered so beautifully. (Coming up with those silly portraits based on the reindeer names was most definitely a “chadism.”


I also created character facial expression sheets for the animators on this short, which is usually a function of the character designer (a job I have held many times in the past). The director thought I should do the expression sheets for this short on their final character designs (which I did not have at the time I boarded this), probably because of all the acting I had put into the boards.
I thought the team did a fantastic job, especially considering that starting in late August for an animated Christmas project is cutting it close!