Storyboarding is defined as a sequence of drawings, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for a film or television production. But what is storyboarding really used for?
As most people would say as a first answer, it is a very important tool in the production of videos/movies/documentaries, but it is a very useful tool in many other fields. For example, the images in this manual are nothing but a storyboard.
The instructions could be easily described by some text, but the visual representation is very helpful for those customers, who (like me) would have no clue of where to start with the assembling 🙂
Storyboards cross over to website creation as well, in particular in the planning and organizing phase, when the designer has to decide “what goes where”, and paper and pencil come in very handy.
This sketch is an example of a website which has got nothing digital yet, but if the designer had to hand it in to a developer, he would be able to start coding straight away, because the purpose and idea of the designer are made clear by the drawing which is also complemented by many notes.
Another world where storyboards are employed is the videogames industry, in fact before ideas are brought to the development and animation stage, they are first put on paper so that the whole production team can be on the same line once the modelling/coding process starts.
In this example, all the animations are described by arrows which are widely recognized as movement. This gives anyone who looks at these sketches the idea of where the objects are moving to, which is a great advantage for the animators which will have to bring those objects to life at a later stage.
Comic books also so go through the storyboarding process (well, at least good ones do), and this is because it is a crucial stage between the story itself and the detailed drawing. Through this process the writer himself will be able to visualise his own story, and suggest corrections and/or changes to the drawings.
Manufacturers also benefit from the existence of storyboards, as they use them to showcase their products and what they can do, like this amazing pencil sharpener which I can’t believe I have survived without all my life!
But let’s go back to the field where storyboards are a must and where they really are a milestone: the pre-production of movies.
Let’s look at this example from the storyboard of The Avengers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNy36RASQNU (is the same scene)
The thing which instantly jumps to my eye is how, although the drawings are not neat and finished but just rough at this stage, the motion and the movement are perfectly described. As we can see in the finished product, we are watching exactly what we expected, which means the storyboard has effectively communicated to the production team and the actors.
So why do we need a storyboard? After all these examples we can clearly see that:
- Storyboards are the best way of sharing your vision, in fact words and other means would not communicate as effectively your ideas
- They do make the production phase much easier! No matter what you are producing, whether it is a movie or a comic book or a pencil sharpener: once your whole team is looking at the same storyboard, the production phase will flow easily.
- It saves you time! Yes, it might look a bit of a tedious process at the beginning, but in the long run it will be worth it
So I have talked you through how professional people storyboard for their multi-million projects, but how do we, common people, amateur-video-makers, students and not-so-rich people deal with the storyboarding process?
Well it might get a bit scary at some points…
Let’s say not everyone has Leonardo Da Vinci drawing skills, and sketching might be harder for some of us. We might think the quality of our storyboards is not good enough. Fair point, I mean I am not the best at drawing myself, but hey, we cannot all be the same right?
Here is the comforting bit, no matter what your drawings look like, even if your characters look like Mr and Mrs Potato, it does not make a difference as long as you make the scene understood by the other people in your team. I will try to be more specific: as long as your sketches are essential and simple you have hit the nail on the head and have produced a good enough storyboard for your production team.
In fact, sometimes it is not the drawing itself, but arrows and other elements which make your sketches really stand out and understood.
Said that, only the public will judge whether you have communicated your ideas effectively or not, and we have no power on that. In this case the comforting thing is that multi-millionaire producers don’t have power over this either, so hey, it is a fair world sometimes J
Now have a look at my version of the storyboard for the last scene of the movie Gravity.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gp-hjEHkVM (from minute 1.14)