A Storyboard is a visual (and textual) description of a visual production, typically some sort of motion based project (i.e. film, video, web animation).[nggallery id=1]
It is often compared to an outline for an essay, but it is really more than this. It could be considered closer to a graphic novel, but even this comparison doesn’t quite work.
How is a storyboard different from a comic book? This question comes up a lot. They do share some similar elements, but they are actually quite different.
Comic Books (okay – Graphic Novels) both share a linear image stream. However, storyboards are discrete panels that are put one after another to describe a linear progression. Graphic novels primary medium is the printed page. As such, it is free to use layout and composition techniques for the printed page to help tell it’s story.
These layout elements do little to help when designing a storyboard for film, for many of these elements simply won’t translate well to the moving image. Narrative decisions are often driven by the constraints of the media itself.
The drawings and layout that make up a Graphic Novel are an end to themselves; while a storyboard is an interim step to finishing a movie. Storyboards can be thought of as construction plans for a building. Graphic Novels are useful for study on ways to effectively convey what you want the audience to see .
A storyboard includes specific reference images that describe visually what the audience sees, dialog and notes referring to production (lighting, music, sound effects, etc.). They can be simple or elaborate, but ultimately they need to be clear enough that they successfully describe not just the action in a scene, but composition, lighting and other elements.
The good news is the only supplies needed is paper and something to draw with. It is highly recommended to use either pieces of note paper or post-it’s.
Use a light color for good contrast. On each page will be a shot. Working this way allows for deleting and adding of shots easily. This is crucial.
What should be conveyed:
- Clear representation of characters. Stick figures will do.
- Perspective. Is the viewer far away or close up?
- Composition. Imagine the camera. What should the audience see? What shouldn’t they see? Who is in the frame?
- Show camera movement by drawing arrows in frame.
- Motion. Instead of drawing static figures, have them posed in the middle of a movement if they are indeed moving.