Creating the world’s most incredible story and finalising the script is great. But how do you get the vision for your script across with only words on a page? Say hello to storyboarding.
A storyboard is a visual outline of your film; creating this is an essential step in producing a film. Let’s put it this way – nothing would get made at our video production company in Manchester if we didn’t storyboard. So let’s guide you through the importance of using storyboards and how to make one that doesn’t suck.
What Is a Storyboard for a Film?
A storyboard is a board… of a story – the name says it how it is. But to be more specific, a storyboard is a series of chronological images showing the story scene by scene.
If you look at a comic strip, there’s a single moment inside each box. That’s exactly what a storyboard is. You draw a single shot of your script in one box, then you draw the next shot in the following box. Alongside these images and boxes, you can add notes to give an even more in-depth outline of how the film will look.
Putting these images and notes together allows you to see the flow of your story and helps get your idea across to the rest of the production team. And let’s be frank; if you’re not all on the same page, the movie will be a mess.
So, creating a storyboard is a vital part of pre-production. Let’s dive into that a little deeper.
Why Is Storyboarding Important?
If you spent hours writing a script, you might feel you can skip a storyboard. After all, the idea is yours, it’s been in your head for a long time, and you’ve spent hours perfecting the story.
But your production team hasn’t gone through that process with you. So a storyboard is vital to transform your words into images for everyone else to see. A storyboard needs to include enough information so someone with no idea what your script is about can understand what’s going on.
When you get into the production phase, you also need to ensure you capture everything you need. You want to tell the best story possible in the most creative way possible, and having a storyboard helps you do that.
There’s also the cost aspect – a storyboard will help keep you on track and keep you from getting lost in filming unnecessary shots and spending way more than you need to.
Now imagine trying to film an epic action sequence without a storyboard or shot list. That screams chaos! So having a storyboard will be your road map and your saviour on a crazy shoot day.
So now we’ve convinced you that storyboarding is an absolute must, let’s go over how to put a storyboard together.
How to Make a Good Storyboard?
First, we need to discuss where to create your storyboard. If you’re an old-school pen-and-paper type of person, go with that. On the other hand, if you can’t get enough of the available apps and software, that’s a great choice, too.
Of course, it’s much easier to amend a digital storyboard and distribute it to your crew. But the important thing here is that you create a good storyboard. So let’s show you how to do that.
You Need a Shot List
Take your script, take a scene, and jot down a rough shot list. Think about how different angles can portray your characters’ emotions and the scene’s mood. How can you reveal things to the viewer through camera angles alone?
This is step one when it comes to constructing a solid storyboard. You need to go through your script scene by scene, shot by shot. Once you have this, you can move on to the next step.
Before you think your storyboard has to look like a Picasso, it doesn’t. This goes for if you’re hand-drawing or using something digitally. Focus on getting the point of each shot across, not making the sketch look good.
As you sketch, don’t worry about details at this point. This part of storyboarding is about getting a rough draft done with the most important aspects completed first.
Add in the Juicy Bits
Once you have your rough sketches done, then it’s time to add in the juicy bits; the detail. Think about the mood and emotion you want to convey in each shot and how you can successfully communicate it.
An important (it’s all important, really) element to add here is layers. Clarify what/who is where in the frame; the foreground, middle ground, and background. You don’t want the main focus of the shot to get lost in the background!
You also want to ensure you’ve varied the camera angles and shot types you use. Fifteen close-ups in a row may send your viewers off for a nap.
Finally, don’t forget your storyboard is a 2D, static image, but the final product will be a film with moving parts. So, if someone walks across a frame, consider adding arrows to show where they are walking. You’ll also want to add the props within each shot, too.
Clarify with Notes
As we’ve established, you may not be giving Dali a run for his money when it comes to art. So, adding some notes to clarify each frame can be incredibly helpful. This final step will help bring every element together.
Speaking of elements, if certain things cannot be expressed visually, such as a voiceover, then text is the best way to include these in your storyboarding.
Finally, what camera movements and transitions are you going to use? Write down if you zoom on a particular shot or if you’re dissolving from one shot to the next.
Storyboarding is the best way to represent your final script visually. It allows you to communicate your vision to everyone who will help bring it to life. Having a completed storyboard will also help in all aspects of production.
So, don’t be embarrassed by your stick figure drawings; get your ideas across to your production team, and craft a beautifully told story.