Burn Notice – Season Finale Storyboards

Here are some storyboards I was asked to do for season 5’s finale of Burn Notice. I was on a feature at Dreamworks at the time so I was able to offer a couple hours a night after work as well as weekends.

The workload was ridiculous and these were done directly with no preliminary sketches (clearly).

To see all of the boards click here:

Storyboarding – Traditional vs Digital Media

Storyboards used to be and in many cases still are done using traditional media- paper, pencils, ink pens and markers. These things are easy to carry around and are inexpensive to purchase. They are both basic and fundamental. These basic supplies should be in the kit of any storyboard artist.

They are essential for situations where an artist is needed in an emergency situation, on location. One example was on a film called Five Days of War, directed my Renny Harlin. I was on location with the crew in a small town called Tsalka, in the Republic of Georgia. There was a huge exodus scene involving hundreds of local extras, thousands of blanks, pyrotechnics, animals, two Georgian attack helicopters and a camera helicopter.  The pilots were Georgian military and didn’t speak English. Renny was running into language barriers and had to be sure the pilot understood how he wanted the scene shot.

I got the call where I was working in a trailer back at base camp. I ran about 4 village blocks, trudging through thick muddy roads to the shooting location and was told what I needed to sketch. I drew up a few shots in a Moleskine notebook which was quickly handed off to Renny. Drawing is a universal language, if you can draw, you can communicate with anyone who can see.  Below are a couple of the on-the-fly boards, done in a matter of minutes for the Georgian helicopter pilot.

[Five Days of War storyboards by Jonathan Gesinski]

For the most part these days, I do work digitally though. There’s no shame to be had in it. Using technology to better your product, provide a better and more useful tool for your client and to work more efficiently is only wise.

Storyboarding or any form of commercial artwork is not fine art. It is impossible to cheat. You do whatever you need to to get your client, be it a director or whomever, something that will help them and ideally make them look as awesome and creative as you can. Using computers to create and manipulate images is an extremely efficient and effective tool. With computers, working digitally, an artist can reuse images already created, easily combine elements into new images, repair and adjust sketches, all in ways not possible when working on actual paper. Again, the aim is to get your client what he needs as fast and accurate as possible. Your job is to convey his idea, to duplicate it so that others can sync up with and work toward making his vision a reality.

[Five Days of War storyboards by Jonathan Gesinski]

Adobe Photoshop is a great program. I probably don’t even need to mention it. The program I use for all of my commercial, digital artwork is Corel Painter 11. It does have problems, glitches and needs to have plenty of kinks worked out but what makes it worth it is Painter’s brush engine. The brushes in Painter are awesome and often times, work created in Painter can be difficult to tell apart from work created in traditional media. Many clients still don’t like a very “digital” look. This is another situation where Painter comes in handy. You can work digitally and a client who doesn’t like a digital look will be happy with what you turn in.

[The Darkest Hour storyboards by Jonathan Gesinski]

Using draw on-screen tablets such as the Wacom Cintiq or tablet computers such as the Axiotron Modbook is also a very natural feeling way to go. Back in the Republic of Georgia, pretty much all of my work was done on a Modbook.

You can see more storyboards and illustration here.

Ideally, being proficient with traditional media is the way to go. Having that tool in your belt, explore going about the same thing using digital tools. See what works best. But ultimately, regardless of how you get there- tell your stories as best you can pull the viewer in and don’t let him go. Draw and draw a lot. Have fun!

Jim Martin – Concept Artist / 3D Modeler

Allow me to introduce you to my buddy and roommate (cellmate) for the past year over at Dreamworks. Actually, if either of us needs an introduction it would be me- he’s been at this art game for some time. His solid work will undoubtedly speak for that.

He is a double-threat. A talented 3D modeler, who as far as I’m concerned, and from what I’ve seen, can build a model of just about anything. He can also draw and paint your head off. He has an impressive range, from animation to realistic people, environments- exterior concepts to interiors, oh, and by the way, he thrives on tech.

Checkout his Homepage here:


For more current and up to date work check out his Blog:


Jim is a proud family man, a great friend and a wildly talented artist. Not to mention, he is also witty and does some great impersonations. This is just a bonus, but trust me, it really helps getting through the day on the job!

TRON – a religious movie

(contains spoilers)

This is a short review and study of TRON. Being in the film business, I’ve had some interesting bits of information come my way regarding TRON and rumored problems they were having- costume problems and mostly re-shoots. Re-shoots especially can tend to be a sign of structural, storyline problems and changes. This can turn out ugly.

I went in to see it expecting a fun film with great special effects, but was prepared for weak story with questionable performances. I was also weary about the digital, younger version of Jeff Bridges. Although clearly very well done, it was clearly digital and reminded me of Benjamin Button which was personally distracting.

I was wrong about my predictions for TRON. It turned out to be quite a solid film from beginning to end.

For the most part, the digital version of Jeff Bridges was not supposed to be a real person, but instead, a digital copy of him. In a sense, it was better this way.

The performances by the actors were great, not so good that they might distract from any other aspect of the film but plenty good enough to not only support but also nicely compliment the rest of the film.

Jeff Bridges clearly steals the show with a top notch performance which even has a good dose of the “Dude” from The Big Lebowski tossed in.

In itself, TRON was a visually beautiful film about an entire world, a digital world within our computers or a specific computer- I’m still not quite sure. The storyline was really well constructed, something I was doubtful about.

The most interesting part of the movie was the fact that it is a story about computer technology, science and so forth but all in all it was far more religious than anything else. Of all movies, TRON ends up being scientific only on its outer skin, but the mass and guts of it end up being a clear and true analogy for Christianity (as we know it today).

Jeff Bridges plays Flynn who is older and wiser when we find him. He dons a beard and fittingly, he is the creator of this new digital world but is now trapped in it. Jeff Bridges is “God”.

Before being trapped in this world, he would visit it and then leave again. His visits would be to create a “perfect grid”. His visits would be thru a portal which would open in the sky. This glowing portal is their version of the “Sun”. It symbolized Flynn’s arrival.

Flynn, while creating his perfect digital world, also copied himself so he would have a partner. This copy of himself he named Clu and is the analogical personification of “Satan”. This is the case not only in that he is the villain in the film but his the first creation of the creator (Flynn) and is unhappy with the direction the creator is going in and decides to take over and create the world the way he sees fit.

Flynn’s son, Sam, enters the world his father created and eventually helps to make it right again. Sam is the “son of Flynn”. Sam is the son of “God”. Sam is “Jesus”.

This can be taken further in that the colors of Clu is a hot yellow and his digital minions are red- fire… Hell. One could say that Jeff Bridges’ character, Flynn was trying to create Heaven in a digital version of Earth where all things would be perfect.

For the most part, anything having to do with science or computers, which you’d assume would be the whole film, was merely vaguely explained. One aspect had no explanation and was cleverly described as “bio-digital jazz”.

I went with my fiancé and her brother who was visiting from out of state and it was a hit with the three of us. It did not however inspire a lasting awe and continuing discussions as did, say, The Matrix or Inception. All in all it was a very well thought out and put together story with good performances and state of the art special effects and is well worth seeing.