In a film, the audience follow the story not just through the dialogue and action of characters, but also how characters, objects, and setting are seen by the camera. By creating storyboards, a filmmaking team can plan out how and what the audience will see in each shot of the film.
So when making a storyboard, we think about what is being shown, and the best or most interesting way of showing it. You might also choose a certain type of shot or composite your shot because you think it will look good, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, the focus should always be on telling the story and conveying what's happening in the best possible way.
To create a storyboard you'll need a script and shot-list which will impact what the storyboard artist creates, but it's up to them to bring the shots and story to life.
Create a long storyboard for the short script The Deal using Storyboarder. Your storyboard should consider different camera shots, camera angles and character movement through the use of arrows.
What you’ll need
- a script and a shot list. Use the ones provided for The Deal.
- digital storyboarding tool Storyboarder. We've some simple instructions on how to use Storyboarder but watch this overview video first, and then try experimenting with the program and its tools before committing to making your storyboard. You’ll need to use a valid email address to get a download link and approximately 70mb of space on your computer.
Step 1: You’re going to make a long storyboard, meaning you’ll illustrate a panel for each shot on the shot list. Luckily it's quite a short script we're using.
Animating using a computer mouse can be difficult, so unless you have a digital drawing pad, use the storyboard template option to print out storyboard sheets. Later you can import these back into Storyboarder and some of its tools to add more detail.
Open Storyboarder and start a new project. When you're asked about aspect ratio, select 16:9. Aspect ratio refers to the dimension or shape of the frame.
Once you're in, find the 'print a storyboard worksheet' option. Decide how many panels per page you’d like to print. We suggest no more than six per page.
Tip: Does your production team already have a location in mind, or a location that is quite close to what you’re after for a particular scene or shot? You can take photos of the location and import them into Storyboarder as well.
Shots, angles, and composition
Composition refers to how things such as setting, characters and objects are shown or placed in the frame. So when you compose a shot in a storyboard, you are deciding on what the camera will show the audience, and where everything is placed within the shot. As you plan your storyboard panels, think carefully about the shot type you’re drawing and think about what you need to show in that shot and where you want to position everything.
If you need a refresher on camera shots, head to our shot types page.
You’ll notice in the shot list provided there is a column about camera angles. To learn more about camera angles follow the link below. There you can read up on different camera angles, and complete an activity on their use.
Camera angles - extended
Step 2: Using your shot-list, start illustrating your storyboard panels. Pay close attention to the shot type listed on your shot-list, as well as setting, characters, objects and character movement you need to show in each shot. This information should be in the 'action' column of the shot list you're using, but don't forget any lines on the 'dialogue' column might affect what you draw in your panels also. For example your character's mouth, expression, body movements and body language might be affected by what they're saying.
Arrows for character movement
Arrows are also helpful to put into your storyboard panels. For now, start using them in your storyboards to show character movement. So for instance in the two images below, we have what appears to be a long shot with a character. Without an arrow, we might not be able to tell what that character is doing. Let's say the script states the character is ‘walking away from the house’ so we can include an arrow to indicate the direction the character is going.
You can also use arrows within your storyboard panels to show when a character is turning their head, lifting their arm...whatever really. What if an object is meant to fall off a table in your shot? Yep you guessed it...use an arrow. That's not to say you need an arrow for every movement in a storyboard, just the ones you think are important.
Step 3: Import your storyboards back into Storyboarder. You can do this by taking a photo of each storyboard sheet on a phone or iPad, or by scanning your storyboards. Follow Storyboarder instructions to import your storyboard.
Once imported, try out some of the Storyboarder tools. There are a range of pencils, pens, textas and erasers. You can also adjust brush size, zoom in or out on your panels, move the image inside the panels, and more.
Step 4: Once your panels are in the order you want, start adding detail for each shot on the right hand side. You’ll notice there’s room for dialogue, action and notes. Add in all the important information from the script here. You don’t have to copy word for word what’s in the script, just an shortened version of the key information, similar to the description of action in a shot-list (in fact it can be the same description if you like).
Step 5: When you're happy with your project, you can export as a PDF file so you and your crew can use when it comes time to film. The dialogue and action you've written in will appear on your storyboards when exported too.
Well done, you can head back to the Film It mainpage for more modules, or create more complex storyboards in the Storyboards extension module.