The pre-production process is the time when you most need to pay attention to details. You need to have all aspects of your film project as clear as possible when you move forward with the shoot. Besides scouting your locations, hiring your department heads and crew, and casting the characters in your story, a good thing to do to have a clearer picture in your head is creating a storyboard. Not everyone does this when starting a new project, but if you have the time and can figure out an efficient way to do it, it can be a valuable resource to rely on.
What is a storyboard?
A storyboard is essentially a visual representation of your film in drawings. It is shot-by-shot picture book of the sequences of your film and how you imagine them, including in some cases not only the characters and objects depicted, but also the camera movements and angles.
How do you create a storyboard?
Storyboards have always been mostly drawn on paper, although nowadays technology allows for digital alternatives. The traditional way to create a storyboard is usually by yourself or with the help of an artist.
In any case, you need sheets of paper that have a storyboard template. These consist of a rectangle box, usually 16:9 ratio to simulate how it would look on screen as if it were actual film footage. Under the box, you have a couple of lines for text to describe what happens in the scene or write anything important about it.
For the drawings themselves, they don’t have to be works of art. As long as you and they key people you need to understand them do so, then you are good to go. They can be stick men drawings for all intents and purposes, but one important thing to do is settle on visual markers for camera movements if you include them.
As mentioned earlier, you can draw your own storyboard by hand or try drawing it digitally using any software you choose. If you go down the route of asking an artist for their help, you might find it a useful exercise to verbally describe your vision of each shot. It can help you figure out if something is overly complicated or if it doesn’t work that well.
Why create a storyboard for your film?
The storyboard is an immensely valuable resource for filmmakers who are passionate about the details and like to feel more secure about their decisions prior to the shooting process. Putting things on paper helps visualize if the angles and the type of shot planned indeed works for that scene or not.
Some people don’t work with shooting plans and they would rather have storyboards for the whole crew. They save time, give people a clear guide to work with and know what’s coming next, and they can be modified to note changes made on set and even as script supervisor books to take notes on continuity details.