What is a storyboard? Where to start!

December 6, 2018 - Storyboard, Storyboard Software, Tips, Video Production
What is a storyboard? Where to start!

Storyboards are sequenced graphic representations, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for a movie or television production.

Basically, a Storyboard is a shot by shot blueprint for a production.

storyboard example types

A Storyboard is meant to be a high level view of a project. In this way, a storyboard is created by visually representing individual boards/panels/frames. This process, which looks similar to a comic strip, maps out a production and outlines the flow for projects particularly like:


Where to Start

After a script is finished / approved, determine who will see your boards.

Who is the audience for the storyboards

The choice of audience will influence the style and complexity of boards. Following are some simple storyboard types used by creatives.

simple storyboard character placement

Simple storyboards for video production

(Film production/Video production/Explainer videos/Documentary reenactment segments):

These storyboards are rough sketches to clearly illustrate the camera setups (shot composition) and main elements of a scene. Also boards can serve as a shot list when in production.

Quick and clear boards speed up camera and lighting setup time. They also reduce questions from crew members about what comes next. [Captions hold slug lines and beginning dialogue text; camera and lighting notes; or prop and scenery notes.]

GOOD for: Self, Crew, brainstorming shot ideas

Presentation style storyboards

(Film production/Video production/Animations):

These boards are “more detailed” and are used to “sell” a concept and serve as a proof concept. They may start as simple storyboards then progress to presentation storyboards [also called storyreels, animatics or leica reel)]. Story artists and art directors are typically hired for the detailed job of hand drawing panels.

Digital storyboard creation, however, can use photos of locations, 3D models and/or pre-rendered storyboard art as a substitute for hand drawn panels.

PowerProduction’s StoryBoard Artist digital storyboard software, makes it easy to use photos of actual locations. Then characters, props and other digital elements can be layered on top of the background location. Caption areas can hold character dialogue. The Timeline feature is used to add sound tracks to place voiceover.  Add music and/or special effects in the timeline and this creates what is called an animatic.

Although production notes/info can be made when creating a storyboard, they are not always presented in these type of boards. Using digital storyboard software makes it quick and easy to show or hide information elements as needed.

In addition, animation projects lay down sound tracks first and build out their animation (key frame style) around the sound.

GOOD for: Producers, Clients, Studios, brainstorming ideas, editing scenes and frame durations

Additional Storyboard types

Commercial storyboards

For instance, key frames* are used to show script ideas/concepts and product placement. The commercial boards are detailed to persuade clients to buy into the ad agency’s concept for their client’s product. Since commercials are typically short, a lot of info needs to be communicated quickly. Captions or sound tracks can give Voice Over (announcer) dialogue and music cues.

Furthermore, ad agencies and commercial production houses use printed boards and/or animatics to sell their ideas to the clients. The storyboard process helps the agency and client understand the vision of the commercial and helps visualize the feel and tempo. Agencies will also distribute storyboards to production houses to facilitate the bidding process.

Elearning and Games:
At the same time, linking project development starts with mock-ups of the idea. For this reason, refining details, especially prior to rendering or coding, saves programming time. In similar fashion money is save. And most important, mock-ups allow for creative input and idea expansion at this early stage.

*Key frames are shots that show plot points or turning points and flow and direction of the story.

What is the purpose of a storyboard frame (a/k/a cell or panel)

Of course, to visualize the story and action of the script! To start, first make a list of the shots you need to show when:

How to storyboard a frame

As soon as determining what elements (characters, props, locations) are in each frame, decide the best shot type to communicate the emotion: Long Shot, Medium Shot, Close Up, POV. For more information about shots read this article

Similarly, for more information about how to create shots that make better video, read our article on Video Production Opening Shots. Creating powerful opening shots is a great way to get attention for the project.

For this reason, using storyboard software to create storyboards, placement, re-positioning, resizing, reordering is much quicker than drawing by hand on paper as long as you can draw.

Further, if you don’t draw, or simply want to storyboard fast and efficiently shooting boards, Storyboard Quick is a great app to use to start. Ideas are communicated quickly and in style with StoryBoard Quick’s storyboard artwork included and built-in choices of professional storyboard templates.

However, for presentation storyboards (animatics with motion and sound) check out StoryBoard Artist and StoryBoard Artist Studio

Finally, if you can draw, grab a pencil or marker and use one of our Free Storyboard Templates.

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