What exactly is storyboarding? Storyboarding is the act of converting a written script into a visual storyline. In the words of John Halas, “The storyboard should serve as a blueprint for any film project and as the first visual impression of the film… It is generally accepted that no production should proceed until a satisfactory storyboard is achieved and most of the creative and technical problems which may arise during the film’s production have been considered.”
I found a really good video while browsing the web. I thought that this video effectively shows the importance of pre-production when it comes to animation, feature films, and short television spots.
After watching this video I found it interesting that many directors feel storyboards are their most important tool when it comes to production. The storyboard helps communicate not only the story, but plays almost like a visual playbook that helps guide the members of the production team. The actors and cameramen can reference the storyboard to get on the same page. Being able to see the movie as a rough concept can save a lot of wasted time and money in the long run. As Andrew Adamson said in the video, “In the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, I storyboarded the whole film, so I could watch the movie before I started shooting it. In order to convince people to give me the time to storyboard the whole movie ahead of time. I told them this is an expensive writing tool, but a really inexpensive production tool.”
Another key point to the video was that a storyboard artist does not have to be a great artist; rather an effective storyteller. Storyboards can either be fully-flushed out sketches or quick gesture sketches of stick figures. The quality of the storyboard drawings is not as important as the overall visual storytelling. “A great storyboard artist can put down, on a storyboard, the minimum amount of information necessary to get a very dynamic and quick read on the content and emotions in the sequence.”
Lastly, an effective storyboard artist must have a good understanding of cinematic camera shots. The storyboard artist should choose the best camera shot that will most effectively drive the storyline. You can find a bunch of books and videos about cinematic shots. I recommend Jeremy Vineyard’s “Setting Up Your Shots: Great Camera Moves Every Filmmaker Should Know.” This book not only goes over the most popular camera moves, transitions, and editing techniques, but also shows illustrated examples of storyboards for each shot. I turn to this book a lot when I am working on storyboard sequences. It can be a real time saver when I want to find the perfect way to tell a story.
In conclusion, storyboarding is a very important step of the production process. Although storyboarding essentially was started at Walt Disney Studios for their animation, visual production studios adopted Disney’s storyboarding techniques for their own use. Film makers, advertising agencies, and music video directors all implement this important tool into their pre-production workflow.
I would like to share a link to one of my favorite storyboard artists, Toby Shelton: