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Master the art of pitching with Pixar's tips: let the story unfold, use personal energy, create distinct characters, utilize descriptive language, and pay attention to pacing. Explore different pitching styles, but as always, practice and excitement are key!

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Video transcript

- Hi, I'm Madeline Sharafian, you saw me briefly in the previous video. I'll be leading you through the rest of this lesson on pitching, feedback and editorial. I'm a story artist here at Pixar and as usual, for this lesson, I'll be joined by few other artists and editors. - Hi, I'm Bob Peterson, I'm a writer at Pixar. - Axel Geddes, I am a film editor. - Anna Wolitzky, I am an editor. - Hi, I'm Domi, and you may remember me from the first lesson on story telling. - As you saw in the previous video, you pitch your story to people to understand what's working and what's not. And like so many other aspects of creating a great story, getting good at pitching takes a lot of practice. Andrew Stanton is a master at pitching, let's take a look at one of his first pitches of Finding Nemo. - And he's woken up by his six year old son, Nemo, who's now with a withered fin, it's from the accident with the barracuda and he swims really erratically and strangely but today he's ping-ponging all over the place because today's the first day of school. And he's all psyched and this is the day that he's been waiting for and this is the day his father's been dreading because his untrust, his lack of trust, his fear of the ocean, everything is just coming to the surface because Nemo has Mr. Ray, who's the science eccentric stingray teacher who likes to bring all the kids out on a field trip to the reef on the first day of school. And so father's just nervously taking Nemo along and Nemo's just all excited asking all these questions. Ah, maybe we'll see sharks dad, you know sharks? No, no, and I don't plan on meeting any. Well how about sea turtles? Sandy Plankton said sea turtles grow to be 350 years old. Well, I'm sure Sandy Plankton's exaggerating, but if I ever meet one I'll ask them. And then they finally make it to the school, Mr. Ray comes, all the kids get on top and father has to nervously watch and float with the other parents as they go off and disappear into the reef. And he can't hide his anxiety, and the other parents all elbow him and go "Ah, don't worry, most of 'em will make it back. "Ah, yeah, don't worry. "I remember my first time at the Drop Off, "oh boy did that scare me." Father says, "The Drop Off? "They're going to the Drop Off? "They can't go to the drop off, that's too dangerous. "Nemo can't swim!" He panics and he goes off into the reef. - Notice how Andrew let the story unfold one element at a time. You may have also noticed that he used his personal energy to create a dramatic and emotional atmosphere. You might even wanna rewind and watch the clip again, paying attention to how he used his voice and body movements to help communicate the story. By far, the most common type of pitching we do at Pixar is does by story artists like me. We repeatedly pitch storyboards to the director as well as to each other, in an effort to make the story better and better. Here's Valerie LaPointe pitching boards that she drew for Inside Out. - Oh my gosh, why have we never been here before? He's like, uh, because mom and dad have been keeping this from us. (growls) - She was playing the role of several different characters, reading their lines of dialogue, and using changes in her voice to make each character distinctive. All these elements help your audience understand important story points, including what the characters are feeling. Now when you're pitching, don't feel like you have to describe every detail of your drawings, they can mostly speak for themselves. You'll want to use descriptive language to lead your listeners to use their imaginations to fill in the details that aren't shown in the boards. For example, you might want to say "a shadowy figure slowly enters the room," rather than "a guy walks in." Descriptive language helps, but you'll also wanna pay attention to pacing. That is how quickly or slowly you tell the story. You might wanna push through an action clip pretty quickly while during a moodier period you might wanna slow down, letting each moment breathe and holding on a single drawing for added emphasis. Story artists each have their own style and approach to pitching. Let's get some addition tips from our artists. - The best advice I've ever gotten for pitching is to just be super, super excited about whatever you're pitching to your audience. Don't be afraid that you're gonna embarrass yourself, just be all in it and your energy will be infectious and it'll get people really, really into it. - So when you're pitching, you want to let it flow. You want the movie to feel like the movie. And so that means not over explaining. Like I've been in pitches where people will start in and say "okay, so he's walking down the street, "and okay, well this isn't exactly the street "it'll be in and you know, that shadow won't be there "and of course he's wearing glasses "and he won't be wearing glasses "and I should've used a number two pencil for that "and I didn't and it should have been a Tom Bo, "so anyway, he's walking down the street." Y'know, it's like get to it. It's like one day Sully's walking down the street, here comes Mike, "What are you doing, Sully? "What are you doing?" "Oh Mike, quiet." Y'know, you keep 'er going, you keep it flowing. If you get to a place where people are sitting up and laughing it means that you're not just reading you are performing. - And the second thing is just to practice. Practice in front of a mirror, practice with your super, super close colleagues and friends and the more you talk about it the more you say the pitch over and over again the easier it is and then the less you'll be stumbling with your words, the more you'll just be focusing on trying to communicate this idea to the person in front of you. - I certainly practice it out loud. I'll sit at my desk and I'll step through the images and perform them. Sometimes it helps to look in a mirror, but I'll do it five, six, seven times, and when you do it a lot, you start feeling the rhythms of it and that's very important that it's not just even that it can slow down, speed up, what you want is some texture in there. And with texture comes change and with that change oftentimes you'll feel something, you'll go from happy to sad, or sad to sleepy, but you wanna feel the changes as you go and that comes from rehearsal. - There's lots of techniques people can do, like maybe do something to get the energy outside of yourself so you're not building it all in so when pitch you're not just like blah! Like blurting out all the words that have been building up inside of you. I just like going to the bathroom, you can psych yourself up in front of the mirror, just take a couple breaths, breathing is really important and then just know that the people that you're pitching in front of don't hate you, nothing terrible is gonna happen if you stumble and they're here to listen to your ideas and they're excited about what you have to say and your story and just know that the room is gonna be positive and just don't worry too much about it. The worst that can happen is you'd have to repeat yourself or you stumble but that's fine, it's not gonna make them hate you. I kinda run through those things in my head over and over again and then I just take a couple breaths and I try to clear my mind and then I just go in. - There's quite a bit to think about when you're giving a pitch, so it takes practice. Use the next exercise to get started.