A Walkthrough of Storyboarding

Published on
February 1, 2022
A Walkthrough of Storyboarding

A storyboard is a visual representation of how a story will unfold, scene by scene. It consists of a chronological series of images with accompanying notes.

A storyboard communicates a filmmaker's vision. It specifies how you want the final piece to flow - whether it's a feature film, a novel, a presentation, a short film, or a marketing video - and simplifies the entire creative process. Storyboarding does more than just summarize the most important details in your plot. It's a process that provides you and your team members with a tangible, visual flow of a project when it's time to collaborate and make key creative decisions during the pre-production process. Making a storyboard takes time, but it will save you time (and money) in the long run.

How to make a storyboard in 4 steps

  • Using storyboarding software, create a storyboard template online. You can also begin with a piece of paper.
  • Draw your storyboard frames, but keep them rough and simple, avoiding intricate visual details.
  • Edit your storyboard to flesh out the most important visual cues in your film, such as scene time of day, lighting, composition, and layering.
  • Zooms, pans, tilts, dollies, trucks, and pedestals are examples of camera movements.

Continue reading to learn more about each step.

Step 1: Online vs Paper

When it comes to storyboarding, there are two schools of thought. The first step is to start sketching on a piece of paper or a storyboard template. The second option is to employ specialized storyboard software.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. A paper template has the advantage of being easily accessible and not requiring the use of a computer. The disadvantage is that making changes is difficult. Moving frames is nearly impossible, as is any type of collaboration or sign-off. Needless to say, good online storyboard software simplifies the process significantly.

Step 2: Draw your storyboard frames

In a nutshell, keep it rough. This is not a piece of art.

Sketching out your frames, also known as 'scamping,' is the process of transforming a written script into a visual one. It's not the place for elaborate special effects or a high level of detail. Scamping is rough, messy, and unpolished – a storyboard in its purest form.

The primary purpose of a scamped storyboard is to assist you in making sense of the narrative. It allows you to quickly generate ideas and make changes without being overly concerned with visual style. Stick figures or rough sketches will suffice if you are not a storyboard artist.

Step 3: Edit your storyboard

Now that you've completed your storyboard, it's time to think about more subtle visual cues. What mood do you want your piece to convey, and how can you do so? Framing, color, and video transition effects are all excellent ways to emphasize emotion that may be lacking in the script.

Step 4: Add camera movement

Incorporating a variety of camera movements into your shots is a great way to spice up your final product. To get you started, here are some well-known camera moves:

  • Zoom: Creates the illusion of moving closer or further away from the subject
  • Panning: The horizontal movement of the camera from one side to the other along a central axis
  • Tilt: The camera remains stationary and focuses on the upward and downward movement
  • Dolly: A track-mounted camera that moves towards or away from a subject is referred to as a dolly
  • Truck: Moves the entire camera horizontally along a predetermined path
  • Pedestal: When the camera ascends or descends in relation to a subject in the shot, it is said to be on a pedestal

Bonus: Storyboarding glossary

Whether you're just starting out with your first storyboard or a seasoned pro, there are a few key storyboarding terms you should be familiar with. To help you breathe new life into your vocabulary, we've compiled a comprehensive list of the most common storyboarding terms you're likely to encounter.

  • Aspect ratio: The relationship between an image's width and height. In essence, it defines the image's shape. Aspect ratios are written as two numbers with a colon (:) separating them. The first number represents the image's width, while the second number represents its height.
  • Frame: A storyboard is divided into frames, which are represented as square or rectangular boxes. Each frame depicts a different scene or event from the story. Your storyboard can have as many or as few frames as you want – just make sure there are enough frames to follow the flow of actions throughout the story.
  • Shot: A shot is a continuous series of actions that are typically made up of a sequence of frames. The most fundamental shot-labeling option is numerical order (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4). It's common in filmmaking to see shots labeled in increments of ten (i.e. 010, 020, 030, 040).
  • Scamps: Initially, a storyboard should be comprised of rough sketches. Scamping is the process of creating these sketches.
  • Script: The foundation of any good storyboard is a script. Before you start drawing, you'll need to agree on a starting point.
  • List of shots: A shot list is a detailed checklist that describes each individual shot. It describes what will happen in the scene and what is required for the scene to take place.
  • Voiceover: A voiceover is a person who reads from a script but is not on screen. It conveys the story for a piece of moving image.
  • Dialogue: A conversation between two or more characters in a story is referred to as dialogue. It can be used to convey information and reveal character traits, and it is frequently used to help the viewer experience the action through the eyes of the character. Rather than simply telling us, dialogue shows us what the character is feeling.
  • Style Frame: A full-color image that aids in establishing the overall look of a film or animation. A wide range of different style frames is frequently produced.