A storyboard provides insight to help you think about ways to use images, sound effects and the sound track to help tell your story as you sketch out key story actions over time.
Whether you are working on a simple photo story, an animation or a full-blown video, storyboarding helps you focus your message. Your storyboard will help you plan for shooting, by helping you pinpoint the types of shots you want and what images or close-ups you may need. Once you have your ideas laid out, you can use your storyboard as a visual to share your story with other people for feedback on your ideas. Changing your storyboard is easy and provides a plan for gathering your content. Without a storyboard, people often just start shooting and gathering lots of content then are overwhelmed when they go put their story together, having to sift through unnecessary footage and go through piles of images, often finding out that they did not get what they needed to tell their story after all.
A storyboard is very often laid out in a grid, similar to a cartoon format, describing the action the audience sees as it progresses through time. For each sequence think about: What is the most important thing for me to be looking at right at this very moment?
- Who are the main characters in the shot?
- What are the characters’ actions, emotions and interactions?
- Where the “camera” is in the scene? Close or far away? Is the camera moving?
- How much time has passed between the previous frame and this frame? Do you need a transition between frames to help indicate time?
At what point in my project schedule should I storyboard?
I recommend storyboarding at two points in your project schedule, one right after you’ve written your script and another right before you begin editing. The first and most important one helps you determine what kind of content you need to make your story happen. It will help you focus your efforts on getting the media that you need for your story without shooting a bunch of unnecessary content. For each cell in your storyboard think about what kind of images or video you need. What graphics, audio clips, sound effects or music should you look for or create?
Storyboarding at the beginning of your project can also help you tighten up your script. Do you really need words to describe the sunny summer day when you have a video clip with a field of flowers blowing in the breeze and birds chirping in the background? Depending on your project, your storyboard can be as simple as aligning the script with a description of the images and audio effects you want. Here is a simple template created in Word.
Create a second storyboard or edit your first one once you have all of your content. Begin by looking at your content. Did you get all of the shots you planned or do you need to think of a way to use an image instead? What are the specific edits you need to make in order create the most meaningful message? This step will save you time in the image and/or video editing process of your project.
How do I create a storyboard?
The most common way to create a storyboard is by using paper and pencil and sketching ideas. You can layout your storyboard similar to a comic strip, draw stick figures and write a description below or draw quick images with descriptions of actions around the image. Index cards and sticky notes work great since they are easy to rearrange. For those who prefer electronic solutions, use software like PowerPoint and Keynote, placing your images in the slide area, writing descriptions in the notes area and, if needed, rearrange the slides to accommodate your story.
Details you may want to describe include angle of the shot, camera movement, zooming, sound effects, music and transitions between clips.