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Welcome to this article on storyboarding basics where we'll cover the fundamentals of crafting a storyboard. By the end of it, you'll become a storyboard master! (Maybe. Please don't hold us accountable if you don't become a storyboard master.)
So jump on in and happy reading.
1. What's a Storyboard?
Before we jump into the nitty and gritty of frames, directions and other stuff, you've got to understand what a storyboard is. A storyboard is a visual representation of a film, made out of a sequence of frames to plan out how you want your story to be shot. Too confusing? Think of it as kind of like a comic.
Over here, we have a few examples of how some draft their storyboards. Some are good, some not so good. We'll let you be the judge.
Storyboarding is the best way for us to convey whatever beautiful ideas we have in our mind to our clients.
It beats a written script, which clients might see as "word vomit".
Ultimately, a storyboard helps our clients better visualise an idea we're trying to sell.
Because based on our past experience, clients need a little help imagining stuff.
Most storyboards have these components:
Depending on how long you want your video to be, you might include scene numbers. Scene numbers are pretty flexible. They can either increase because of a change in environment (in this case a scene) or a change in the subplot. It really depends on what you're going for. All in all, scene numbers are used to group your frames up nicely.
Frame and shot number are the same yet different.
Frame numbers are pretty self-explanatory. Whenever there's a new frame, the number increases by one. And that's about it.
For shot numbers, things get more technical. Whenever the camera cuts or the shot changes, we mark that as a new shot. For example, imagine you want to include a scene of a character moving but he’s moving in a different style. If the camera angle changes then it counts as a new shot. On the other hand, if the character does a new action in the same camera angle, it would still count as the same shot.
Shot numbers are usually used in live or large scale productions as it helps to keep the timeline and manpower better organised.
This is where you put in your illustrations.
Most of the time, you’ll be doing them in a 16:9 ratio which is what most mediums use today. Sometimes, clients may want a different framing. No biggie. You can adjust it to 4:3 for a nostalgic feel, 1:1 for social media or 25:194 for whatever weird reason.
Action Safe Area
This little dotted box is called an action safe. Not every project needs it, but it’s SAFE to have one around.
Action safe is used when you're making a video for TV. This area of the video is the safe zone of what can be seen on the television, Anything outside that area might be cut off depending on the television that's displaying it. It's something like the bleed area in printing, so keep all your main points within the box and you should be fine and dandy.
Dialogue is for narration and character dialogue. Even if it’s a sound effect that goes "bang", put it in.
This is a brief summary of what’s happening and what’s going to happen in the scene. Your illustrations should technically be enough since a picture speaks a thousand words and whatever. But it’s these few extra words that help get it across the finish line.
Miscellaneous stuff falls under here too. This includes camera movement or position, or in some cases animator notes about making things more impactful.
3. Drafting the board
We recommend this step-by-step process when creating your storyboards.
When drawing your boards, keep sketches rough and cover the gist of things. No one wants to draw a masterpiece for every frame only for the story to change somewhere down the line.
When the floorplan has been laid out, add in your comments and extra details throughout the board. For example, should Frame 2 and 3 be flipped around? Should the camera zoom in? And should the character be a bunny?
Once you're satisfied with the overall flow, you can start to flesh it out and even turn some of the frames into style frames.