If you’re a film production enthusiast, then you already know that an incredible amount of work goes into every single scene of a TV show, movie, and online video. Long before you see the finished product on-screen – and even before the shooting starts – there are so many details to consider.
For anyone that’s interested in working in film production, learning how to make a storyboard is a must. We’ve put together a handy guide that takes you through the process from start to finish, and provides you with a series of practical storyboarding tips that you can start using now.
What is a Storyboard?
Before you can learn how to storyboard, you’ll need to understand exactly what a storyboard is and why you need one. So, let’s begin with the basics.
Storyboarding (the act of creating a storyboard) is a part of the film production process. Essentially, a storyboard is a series of drawings that layout key details of a certain scene/sequence. Storyboards often look like a series of comic book panels, and can include:
- Drawings, photos, and/or reference images to represent each frame of a film sequence
- A detailed description of the shot, including any important information about the composition, dialogue, and/or action
- Plot ideas
- Shot specs, such as the lens length, shot size, etc.
- Arrows to depict character or camera movement
- Illustrations of how each shot links to the next
Although every filmmaker has their own unique creative process, most use storyboards for the same basic purpose: as a highly detailed visual representation of a specific film sequence. The amount of information and detail in a storyboard depends on the person, and some filmmakers only use storyboarding for more complicated film sequences (while others like to make one for every scene).
As you hone your own filmmaking skills, you’ll be able to figure out how storyboards work to complement your personal approach.
Why and How to Make a Storyboard
Storyboarding is a hugely valuable tool for filmmaking, whether you’re shooting a 10-second commercial or a full-length movie. So, even if you’re someone that prefers a more spontaneous creative method, storyboarding is a staple skill.
You’ll need storyboards to:
- Pitch your concepts
- Pre-visualize and plan your film project
- Collaborate with other members of the production team
- Ensure you don’t forget any key details
- Take an efficient approach to shooting
- Edit more easily
What are the 5 elements of storyboarding?
Each panel, or shot, of a storyboard, serves to illustrate key details using these five core elements:
- Shot: The shot is labeled with the scene and shot numbers (for example, “Shot 1.5” for the fifth shot in the first scene). There are different types of shots, ranging from close-ups to wide shots and everything in between.
- Panel: The panel represents the aspect ratio of a shot. The most common aspect ratios are 16:9 and 2.39:1, as well as IMAX.
- Sequence: A sequence is a series of multiple shots that equate to a single scene in a film. Each sequence has a title.
- Description: In the description, the storyboard artist or director might add details about a scene. For example, they might include instructions for the camera operator that notate exactly how they should capture a certain shot.
- Arrows: The arrows in a storyboard are typically used to show the direction the camera will move (pan out, pan in, etc.).
Think of these as your basic building blocks for storyboarding.
What are the 7 steps in storyboarding?
You don’t have to be a skilled artist to sketch out a useful storyboard – in fact, many effective storyboard artists keep the actual visuals pretty simple. What you will need is a smart, organized approach to planning and creating your storyboard.
Using these seven simple steps, you can turn your ideas and inspiration into a storyboard that serves its purpose.
- Figure out your goals. Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your video, and exactly what its purpose is going to be. Think about who your target audience is, the publishing channel, and the message you want to send, and how that shapes the tone, language, time frame, and content of your video.
- Start brainstorming. When you have a lot of different ideas, getting them all down on paper (or in a digital document) can help you organize them. Write down all of the ideas you have for a project, without worrying about editing the list just yet. Then, look at how you can create a cohesive story with those ideas, and eliminate any that don’t fit. Pinpoint important characters, setting, and theme as well.
- Set up a timeline. Keeping the story in mind, start planning out a timeline of events. Begin with the start point, key transitions, and the conclusion, and then fill in the gaps in between for a seamless story.
- Begin sketching the storyboard. Storyboards generally use a basic layout made up of a series of empty boxes. You can find printable storyboard templates online, or just sketch out your own. Using one box per scene, start drawing (or use storyboard software). Remember that your drawings don’t have to be elaborate, just clear and purposeful.
- Add in your notes. Under each box, include important details for the shot (special effects, camera angle, lighting, etc.). You’ll use your script draft to develop these details.
- Get some feedback. Ask a fellow filmmaker to take a look at your storyboard and provide honest feedback. They can help you determine if the storyboard is effectively communicating basic details and ideas, and even highlight certain opportunities for improvement. It can be incredibly useful to get fresh eyes on your storyboard, so don’t skip this step.
- Make revisions. Once you have feedback, use it to make changes as needed. You don’t necessarily have to take every single suggestion, but be open to revising your original ideas.
How Do You Get into Storyboarding?
Building your storyboarding skills requires practice, but you’ll also need to learn important principles of digital production, storytelling, and more. This means that, even though you can certainly “teach yourself” some aspects of filmmaking, getting a media education is the best way to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for a future career.
What degree do you need for storyboarding?
There’s not necessarily a specific degree for storyboarding. Rather, you’ll need an understanding of how to tell an engaging story, film production, technical details, and more.
A digital media production program can expose you to the full spectrum of skills necessary for storyboarding – and help you refine your creative process as a whole.
Enroll in Media Classes and Learn How to Create Digital Content Now
It’s no secret that breaking into the media industry can be a challenge, especially because competition is fierce. If you want to stand out and prove yourself to potential employers, the best place to start is with a hands-on media education.
At the BeonAir Network of Media Schools, with campuses located in Miami, Chicago, Colorado, and Ohio, you can sign up for digital media programs that teach you how to turn your passion into a full-time career. Our Digital Media Production program introduces you to the wide world of media, giving you a comprehensive understanding of digital storytelling. Whether you’re hoping to make a dramatic career change, or you’re a recent graduate ready to strengthen your resume, our media schools can be the first step towards your goals.
Discover how our nationwide media schools and diploma programs can set you up for career success – apply now!
Image Source: Sutipond Somnam / Shutterstock