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A Step by Step Process of How to Storyboard

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a sequence of visuals arranged one after another. Before a video is shot, filmmakers map out each individual frame in a storyboard so they know exactly what needs to be filmed or animated next. The linear progression of images helps to realize a story visually before it is put to film. Storyboards are vital tools in translating meaningful stories from page to screen.

The methods of storyboarding vary depending on the context or industry they are being applied to, including beat boards, which are predominantly used in advertising, and interaction storyboards, used primarily in computer programming.

Learn more about the history of storyboards and the different types in: What is a Storyboard and Why They Produce Better Stories.

Why We Use Storyboards

Storyboard to Tell Better Stories

At Memory Tree, storyboarding is an essential part of our production process because they help us craft more meaningful stories for our clients. Storyboards are the map of your film. They help you navigate storylines, spot plot holes, and ensure everything in the script ends up on the screen.

Storyboards Provide Clarity

An effective storyboard can aid everyone involved in the filming process. Seeing the story laid out frame by frame helps convey a director’s or writer’s vision to the rest of the production team.

Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi relies on storyboards too. He said: “I’m a very visual person when it comes to writing music. I like to see something besides just a script, even if it’s just a storyboard or pictures from the set.” Storyboarding can help production teams plan their work alongside the visual aspects of the film.

Storyboards Are Cost-Effective

Storyboarding is also more cost-effective in the filmmaking process, as storyboards help spot problems or holes early on. It’s much easier to fix a disjointed story or a narrative flaw in the storyboarding phase than the filming or editing phase. There’s nothing worse than concluding your shoot and realizing in the editing room you forgot to film a key element. It can be very costly to correct these mistakes, not to mention a severe waste of time for the crew, actors, or clients involved.

How to Storyboard Step by Step

Step 1: Use the Script to Sketch Each Scene

Based on the script, make a rough sketch of each beat by hand or on the computer to establish a storyboard framework. Create a new frame for each important action, piece of dialogue, or transition. The storyboard does not need to be overly detailed or complicated—stick figures will more than suffice—but it should give a good impression of how the action will move forward from scene to scene.

Step 2: Add Movements, Effects, and Transitions

Add in any important details to each frame. It can be as simple as adding an arrow that points to the right or left. Where is the camera facing in each scene? What movement is required by the camera or the actors involved? Are any special props needed? Will the scene have any special effects or typography that need to be added in post-production?

Step 3: Iterate

Now you can perfect your story, ensure it makes narrative sense, and spot any possible production challenges that could arise. Are there any changes that need to be made or should be made? The iteration process works best when it’s collaborative. Share your storyboard with someone new to get a first impression and to make sure the story is easy to follow.

For each of Memory Tree’s projects, we work closely with our clients to make sure everyone is happy with the storyboard before we begin to film. A storyboard typically goes through a few different iterations before everyone is satisfied.

Step 4: Share with the Production Team

Share the completed storyboard with everyone involved so that the whole production team is on the same page. Seeing a visual portrayal of the script with all important instructions added will make the job all the clearer on shooting day.

Storyboarding Resources

Paper is Simple and Effective

Storyboarding doesn’t need to be a fancy process. It can be as simple as sketches drawn in individual boxes on a piece of paper or sketchbook. If you want a little more structure, you can print premade storyboard layouts.

Use a Layout

Boords Storyboard Templates are simple, professionally designed, and free. Customize your layout with options for portrait or landscape from 2 to 16 frames, which are downloadable in Photoshop, Powerpoint, Word, or PDF formats. Printable Paper has a very large assortment of storyboarding layouts too that are all free to download.

Digital Storyboarding

Popular digital tools like Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro, or InDesign can all be used for storyboarding. Storyboard That is a free tool designed specifically for storyboarding. The tool has a wide variety of backgrounds, characters, and objects to help you create a storyboard online. Storyboard That allows you to create two storyboards a week for free, or you can upgrade for more storyboarding opportunities and advanced features.

Storyboarding at Memory Tree

Storytelling is at the very heart of what we do. We create detailed storyboards for every Memory Tree project, whether it’s live action or animated. This process is vital to our work and it’s helped us craft incredible stories for our clients and community. To learn more about our process or to talk to someone about the story you’d like to tell, you can reach our team by phone or email.

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