If we were to just give you the short answer, it’s “it depends” — but that probably wouldn’t be of any help to you as our shortest, most non educational article here. Rather, we’ll reveal more about what they are and when they may be beneficial to your project.
If you’ve previously engaged with a video production company, you’d probably know how long the process can take. While the production process is taxing by itself, the duration of the project is also largely dependent on how well the video production company and you, the client, communicate, especially in pre-production before any filming begins. Your needs and objectives need to be clearly defined for the production team to work towards, and the latter also has to fully share their ideas and plans with you. This is where storyboards come in.
You can think of storyboards as something like a comic book version of your script. It’s made up of a number of squares with illustrations or pictures representing each shot. There are usually notes to accompany these illustrations, describing what’s happening in the scene or any other relevant notes. There are no hard and fast rules to its format — some storyboards may look more high-fidelity while others are more on the sketchy side. As long as they’re a clear visual representation of the script, the storyboard artist has done their job right.
In The Art of Walt Disney (1974), Disney credited their animator Webb Smith with creating the first storyboard, when he first drew scenes on separate sheets of paper and pinned them up to visually tell the story in sequence. This is now a common practice in Disney and most narrative projects everywhere. Take a look below to see how one of Disney’s films, Tangled (2010), compares from its storyboards to final animation!
This depends on how complex the project is. They’re essential for narrative and conceptual projects, for instance, since there’s a big emphasis on visuals which makes it crucial that everyone interprets the script in the same way. This really helps everyone in the crew carry out their roles more efficiently and effectively. However, for more direct projects like corporate shoots, often call sheets are used instead. There’s less emphasis on visuals but get down to the nitty gritty through describing the scene, location used, and often the type of shot.
Often, it’s only after visualising the script the first time that more ideas flow in, whether it’s a more visually interesting shot or a missing chunk of dialogue. During the storyboarding stage, not too much has been cast in stone which makes it less risky to make changes.
Storyboards are great for figuring out logistics. From props to locations, the producer will have a better understanding of what is needed in each scene and can procure them and the relevant licenses accordingly. With regards to the video’s visuals as a whole, the director and director of photography often work together using both the storyboard and a shot lists to plan and adjust shots before filming begins. Essentially, these storyboards act as a great guide to keep everyone in the team organised and on the same page.
With both the shot list and storyboard in hand, scheduling becomes so much easier. The person scheduling (traditionally the assistant director) will be able to have a better gauge of how long each scene might take, according to how many shots are needed and how long they might be. This determines the filming dates and how the production schedule and daily call sheets will look like, while projects without storyboards come to this point through script referencing instead.
This is where you come in. Communication between a video production team and the client may be difficult without a visual reference. Storyboards will help you see how the team intends to tell your story, and you can decide whether they’re doing it the way you imagined. This also makes your own feedback much clearer to the team since everyone has the same visual image rather than each individual having their own interpretation of the script, which only opens up miscommunication down the road. Especially once you’re on board, the directors and crew will have more leeway to experiment should they decide to make changes during filming, since they’ve already got your approval and vision.
So, yes, you need a storyboard, and now you know why. If you’ve already got a project in mind, click here to find out some things you should consider when looking for a video production company to engage.
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