If you’ve never heard of a storyboard before, then it’s time to take your mind back to your comic book days (or if you never ventured into the mad world of Marvel etc, you at least drew stick figures in kindergarten right?). In any cartoon, painting, or even photograph, a moment in time is captured. You are looking at a scene. Sometimes there’s cues as to what it happening in the moment, like speech bubbles in a comic, or a person portrayed mid action. In a comic, each of these moments are strung together to create a story. It moves from one picture to the next. And there you have it – that’s a storyboard. It’s a series of still pictures that each represent a moment but together create a story. So, a storyboard that you create in planning your video is creating a series of pictures that each represent a moment of your script. You are starting to make concrete what has been in your head from the idea and scripting steps. Having planned the story, you are now planning how you want that story to be visualised. You are essentially giving some guidelines for what you want each shot to look like.
How do you do this? Simple. Draw down the left side of a page about 7 rectangles that are the same ratio as what you will film in (16:9 is the widescreen ratio). In each of these, you will draw a moment that represents your first seven shots. On the right of each of these, you would write the part of the script that each shot will cover. For example, if I was filming a conversation, then I may begin with a side on shot of the two people – so I would draw where in the frame I would want those two people to be located, and write on the right any dialogue that would be spoken while this shot remains. I would also include any directions for camera movements on the right. For the next shot, I might want a front on close up of one of the person’s faces – so I would draw where in the frame the person would be, and write on the right any dialogue covered and directions for camera movement. You don’t need to be an artist – even stick figures is fine! The main thing is that you are planning every shot such that you can essentially imagine a stickfigure movie in your head. It’s like you’ve got a comic form of your video.
Why do this? Three big reasons.
1. You will know the minimum shots you need to make your video, what you want them to look like, and what they look like together.
2. You will avoid copious amounts of useless footage that wastes both your shooting and editing time.
3. You will know how to edit your video before you even get to editing, making it 10 times quicker when you do get to it (that’s why some people call it a ‘paper edit’).
There’s many more reasons of course – three just sounded cool, and they are the big reasons. You’ll also be fine tuning your script, working out extra shots you might need that you hadn’t visualised in the scripting process, cut out possible filming errors, and you set yourself up much better for planning your shoot.
So are you convinced? Once you’ve got a script, sit down and storyboard it. I often do this the day before I’m about to shoot. Some people even make a video storyboard, where they put the pictures into an edit and record the script over the top, maybe even adding some music. If you’ve got the time to do this, then it will give you a vibe as to whether or not the shots you’ve planned are working with the timing and flow of the script (it’s kind of one of those things that in an ideal world I’d love to always do, but in reality have only even done it once).
Here’s a template that I just print out for doing a storyboard on paper. Feel free to use it. But it may even inspire you to make your own, or figure out a cool way to do it on your computer.
Doc – Snowy’s Storyboard Sheet
Pdf – Snowy’s Storyboard Sheet
Please comment if you want any more details about the above step.
If you want to see an example of this, check out my post that details a bit of how I went through the 8 steps in making a recent film.
Next step: Organise your filming day
This post is part of the series 8 Steps to Making a Video