Storyboards extension

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Now you have a solid understanding of storyboards, you can learn more about how to draw more effective storyboards, and how to create an animatic.

Using Storyboarder, you can create what’s called an animatic. An animatic is basically an animated storyboard – so not quite an animation – but similar.

Storyboards are put together with timing for each shot you’ve drawn, then once exported as a GIF the storyboard plays back like a film. Remember though storyboards aren’t created frame by frame, rather shot by shot, so it won’t have all the detail you see in a film. However it will give whoever watches a really strong idea of how the final film will look. Watch this animatic from the film Toy Story to see how a good animatic looks. You might notice too that in great storyboards, extra panels might be added to show extra movements within the same shot.

As well as using arrows for character movement, storyboards can also feature arrows that show how the camera might move, and how actors should move in each shot.

The task

Create a storyboard that considers shot types, camera angles, composition; as well as arrows for character and camera movement. Once done, you'll create an animatic. 

What you’ll need


Step 1: Decide how you’re going to create your storyboard. You can print templates from Storyboarder and hand draw panels, then import them back into Storyboarder. Later you can add to or alter your panels using Storyboarder tools. You can start from scratch (be aware though that using a mouse to animate can be hard) and draw your panels in Storyboarder, or you can take photos and import them into Storyboarder and illustrate over them. You can even use a combination of all those. It’s up to you. 

Step 2: Using your shot list, start illustrating your storyboard panels, paying 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. You can also include arrows to indicate character movement within the shot, as well as camera movement. Read the section below on storyboard arrows before you start illustrating your panels.


Arrows can indicate character movement (when the arrow is inside the panel) or camera movement (keep these arrows on or close to the edge of the panel). Often the arrows showing camera movement are outside the panel, but we want to make sure they don’t get cropped out when we import or draw in Storyboarder. One way of distinguishing between arrows for characters and arrows for camera is to fill in arrows for camera movement, and leave character arrows unfilled.

So for instance in the first image below, we have what appears to be a long shot with a single character in the frame. Without an arrow, we can’t really tell what that character might be doing. So we can include an arrow to indicate the direction the character is going within this shot, which you can see in the second image. In the third image, we've used an arrow to show a character turning their head. Notice the arrows aren't filled in.

We can also use arrows to show camera movement. If you're unsure about the different camera movements, follow the link below to learn more.

Camera movement - extended

More info

Arrows continued...

In the below images we have an image that uses an arrow to show we want the camera to pan to the left. In the second image there are several arrows pointing in to show we want the camera to 'push in', which means to move the camera closer to the character. Here the arrows are filled in, indicating they're for camera movement.

Here the arrows tells us that the camera should pan to the left away from the person sitting in the chair. Maybe to who he/she is waving at? Notice the arrow is filled in, indicating it's for camera movement.

Here the arrows indicate the camera should push in or move closer to the person sitting in the chair.

Step 3: Make sure you’ve completed your storyboard as best you can. This means that all your shots are shown by a panel, you’ve added arrows where you need them, and all your boards are in order in your timeline.

Step 4: Go through your storyboard and include all the relevant information on the right hand side, including any dialogue that appears in each shot as well as a basic description of the action. Anything you write in the dialogue box for each shot will appear when you export as an animatic.

Step 5: Add timing to each panel in your storyboard. You’re trying to replicate how long each shot should hold for in your final film. Imagine the action taking place in each panel, how long it will take, and then add time to your panels. Note though that when you write in the dialogue box, Storyboarder estimates how long that panel should hold based on how much dialogue you’ve written. You can always change the timing if you don't agree. When entering in timing manually, Storyboarder asks for milliseconds, not seconds. So 1000 milliseconds = 1 second.

Make sure you write any dialogue in a shot in the dialogue section, otherwise it won't appear in your GIF. Notice that Storyboarder will suggest a duration for the shot when you write in dialogue, however you'll still have to enter it manually. Don't forget to add duration for all your shots, not just the ones with dialogue.

Step 6: Once you’re done, playback your storyboard and if you’re happy with it, export as a GIF. Right click the file Storyboarder GIF below and open in a new browser window to see an example of how the GIFs come out. Show a friend or someone in your team, does the timing feel right? Could you add or change anything to improve it?

Exporting as a GIF is easy. Just make sure all your shot duration and dialogue are entered first. Once youv'e exported your GIF, open it with a web browser to see it in action.

Well done, you've gone all the way with storyboards. You can head back to the Film It main page and explore more filmmaking roles.

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