What’s the one pre-production step that most video creators want to skip? Storyboarding, without a doubt. We all want to move to production right away once we have the script. We have our vision for the video and can’t wait to bring it to life. But here is the problem: one’s vision can be very different whether you are the director, producer or customer. Conflicts between different visions will arise on shoot day, and can become even worse during post-production.
Storyboarding will ensure that every crew member “sees” the same video in their head. It provides a common vision they will work towards. It also sets expectations with the customer. That way if someone is unhappy with a shot during post-production, you can refer to the storyboards for discussion. So unless your video is a simple talking head with b-roll, you should always take the time to storyboard. Here’s how:
First, you must have a script. Making storyboards doesn’t mean you should skip the script. In fact, you will need the script to build your storyboards. It will make the storyboarding process that much more quick and pleasant. If you haven’t written your script yet, here is how you do it.
Once you have your script, you’ll need a storyboards template. It will give you a structure to transfer your script into – many templates are available on the web. Make sure to transfer everything from your script into this template. If a scene includes a lot of different actions, divide it into several boards. Here is an example:
Medium shot shows Jon scanning notes in his notebook with a highlighter in hand, flipping the pages quickly as he searches for a particular page. Jon then reaches for something in his bag and spills his cup of coffee all over the notes.
You should divide this action into two different boards. One will show Jon on his notebook, and another will show him reaching into his bag and spilling his coffee. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be during shoot day. Ok, we’re done with the setup part, now let’s get to the fun part.
The sketching process is when you actually draw your personal vision for the scene. You don’t need to be a good drawer to create storyboards, but it will definitely help bring them to life if you are. Start by sketching the most important elements of the scene, and then add details around them. Be as detailed as possible to avoid leaving anything important out. Anything left out will be subject to interpretation and could create conflict.
Let’s take for example the short piece of script we shared above. Read it again and try to draw the two boards in your head. Or even better, draw them on a piece of paper. Now look at what the storyboard artist actually sketched:
In your vision of the script, did you use a to-go cup for the coffee? Was the table round? Or the notebook different? Was the camera facing Jon, or capturing him from a lower angle?
Those may seem like minor details, but remember that the script was only a few lines here. At scale, differences in vision can add up. Of course, you could write all those details in your script, but it would likely make it impossible to read. And you would forget many details anyway.
If drawing is not your thing, you can buy prebuilt graphics and edit them together using illustration software. Here is one that was created this way:
You can also use stock pictures such as “woman on her phone” or “car on the road at night”. But most will be pretty standard and you’ll need to customize them a bit to make them fit your story.
Of course we’re biased, but for us the best way to get professional boards done is to hire a storyboard artist on Gravitr. You submit your script in minutes and get your boards back within days. And if you’re not completely satisfied, you get a round of review for free. Plus it’s affordable. What’s more to ask?
The Final Touch
Once your storyboards document is complete, go over everything one more time. You want to make sure everything flows well and makes sense. At this stage, your storyboards should make you feel very close to the “real thing'”. As you’ll skim through the boards, you’ll see your video come to life before you’ve even shot anything. If you’re making the video for a customer, have them review and sign-off the storyboards before moving to the next step. Now the hardest part is still left to do, but you and your team have a hell of a vision for it.