December 24, 2022

Storyboarding Basics

Photo by Matt Popovich

Storyboarding is a crucial aspect of the pre-production process. So, what is a storyboard?

It is a visual representation of the sequence of shots in a video, outlined in a clear and concise format. Many production companies shy away from this super helpful pre-production process in order to cut costs… something we don’t recommend. Storyboards are often comprised of illustrations or visuals (images, squiggles, whatever) accompanied by dialogue and often specific notes. 

It's important to have a clear idea of the end goal when starting a storyboard. They can sometimes be used as a brainstorming or planning tool to precompose your ideas visually; The main goal is to get a visual representation of what will be created and effectively articulate the objectives of each scene. How will the scene look? How will the story flow? What message will each scene communicate? 

Storyboards can be used for multiple different aspects of pre-production and can make it much easier to communicate and share ideas with your team/client. If you had a peek at our recent Instagram post, you may have gotten a glimpse into what we value when creating storyboards here at 2C, but we utilize different formats of storyboards depending on how in-depth we need to be and the budget of the production. 

Storyboards can sometimes be works of art. Disney or Warner Brothers have breathtaking formats. Below is an example of Lou Romano's work in 2002. This Incredibles storyboard is more commonly referred to as a colour script, or a coloured storyboard because it helps the team visualize the predominant colours in each scene.

The Incredibles - Lou Romano (2002)

Some really cool examples of storyboards can be seen here

In reality, storyboarding doesn’t have to be complex! If you aren't super great at drawing, that's okay! Using reference images in place of hand-drawn frames can be just as effective in communicating your idea. If you are a photographer and have the means, take pictures of the rough setup. Stick figures are also an option, or you could always work with a storyboard artist.

As long as you can understand the flow and direction of the project and the specific elements you need to have visualized, you’re on the right track. Our only suggestion with stock image storyboards is that they can lose some of the more intricate details of the project. In this scenario, invest in hand-drawn or photographed storyboards to capture specific details, sets, lighting, colours etc. Take a look at the example below of our storyboard where we utilized stock images to get the flow across.

When we use hand-drawn scenes to conceptualize an idea, we do this to convey an emotion or navigate the shots in a specific space we may be shooting at. These storyboards tend to lean towards the larger production scale because they eliminate mistakes and make the shooting process much easier as you have a visual step-by-step of how the scene should be shot. Illustrated storyboards do take a lot more time however so, if you don't want to be spending a ton of time (and money) on hand-drawn frames, opting for stock images may work better for you. Take a look at the example below of our hand drawn storyboard, where we illustrated the exact shot and scene we wanted.

In our Instagram post, we showcase the use of notes and direction. With each frame having both a visual reference and notes depicting more specific details, the message can thoroughly be communicated and the end product visualized before the shoot. This ensures everyone is on the same track and knows exactly what needs to be done to capture the perfect moment.

Having the reference guide to what is going on in your head can also bring everyone else in on the genius. Revisions can be made much quicker, and suggestions from others can flow a lot better through visuals. 

Sometimes text deliverables just don't cut it. And even if they do, it's never a bad idea to increase the success of your project and production with the use of a storyboard. Regardless of what elements you use in your storyboard, the effort and cost will be worth it.