Cinema is an audiovisual medium, one which is more complex today than the original inventors first imagined. Complex narratives give rise to unique locations and complicated placement of characters on-screen. Today, directors find it more and more difficult to convey their vision to their crew. Storyboards are the simplest form of communication on a film production, and they save time and money in the long run.
It is widely believed that storyboards as they are today originated from the Walt Disney studio during the early 1930’s. According to Christopher Finch in The Art of Walt Disney, Disney credited animator Webb Smith with creating the idea of drawing scenes on separate sheets of paper and pinning them up on a bulletin board to tell a story in sequence, thus creating the first storyboard.
Which makes sense, since storyboards are basically cartoons, only difference being it explains how the story should be told, rather than being the story itself.
Today, with million dollar budget films casting famous movie stars, film-=makers cannot afford to just rely on verbal communication, since every second is valuable.
An ideal storyboard should mimic the camera’s perspective and depict the expression of the actors. This includes taking into account the focal length, aperture, art direction, motion and space. This means the storyboard artist should have working knowledge of every department on set. With such a heavy responsibility on their shoulders, storyboard artists have quite a complicated job on their hands.
In this article we have listed a few tutorials from experienced artists who break down and simplify the storyboarding process, so you can raise your skills to fulfill every professional need, no matter what the demand:
1) Storyboard Secrets
Storyboard Secrets is Sherm Cohen’s blog. He is a cartoonist, writer and storyboard artist. He got his start in animation at Nickelodeon on The Ren and Stimpy Show as a character layout artist, followed by a three-year stint on Hey Arnold as storyboard artist and director.
His website has incredible tips and tricks for the budding doodler who wants to become a full fledged artist as well as for the professional artist who wants to improve or fine-tune his technique.
In the below video, he describes tried and tested methods to achieve optimum results for near to real life depictions of characters in relation to their environment :
He has many more shot/character specific storyboard making techniques on his Youtube channel.
Wikihow has an easy to grasp, simplified step by step breakdown of how get your ideas and concepts down to a storyboard. They also provide suggestions on how to improve on certain areas of storyboarding such as story work, design and fine tuning. Though not really descriptive for the intermediate storyboard artist, this is a good place to start if you are clueless about creating your first storyboard.
3) Temple of the Seven Golden Camels
Mark Kennedy’s blog is an extensive, exhaustive resource for shot/scene/cut specific guidelines on storyboarding. He provides in-depth treatment of character expressions and emotions to really empower your film.
Today, there are several storyboarding softwares that have every set element down to the last detail, from prop placement to backgrounds to character reactions. You can check out this article which gives you an overview of previsualization previz software and methods.
Storyboarding is an important asset to any film crew so they can make sure they are all on the same page. It helps keep shooting schedules seamless and consistent. And, the storyboard is the director’s best bet whenever he/she wants to check the flow of the story and to get a ‘status report’ of the scene.
Though it isn’t mandatory for storyboards to be made, a good storyboard will spare everyone a lot of grief.
What approach works for you? Let us know.