“Toto, I've (got) a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." – The Wizard of Oz.
Love drawing cartoons, then storyboarding is for you. Storyboards work for all - features, Tv serials, AD films, and even for animation. It helps some more than the other.
What is a Storyboard?
A Storyboard is a way of pre-visualizing the directors thoughts or ideas (mainly scripts) into illustrations or images so that the director and the team can see what he plans to shoot or do.
What does a Storyboard look like?
A Storyboard is a series of still Images or illustrations put in story order to explain to everyone what the directors vision is. They could just be images put in order which explains everything, or usually there is a description alongside which describes the camera size (like wide, mid, etc) and the dialogues that go along with the frame. The dialogues could also be broken up based on the edit pattern that the director has in mind. For presentation the general norms are to have the image on the left and the description on the right, these could be 4 per page or if the other pattern of 2 a page is used then description is put below the image. Sometimes this pattern is used to put as many images in one sheet as possible so that the entire story or scene is on one sheet so that the overall idea could be seen faster.
Storyboards can be done differently from 2D to 3D they can be done in black n white, or in colour, even still’s are sometimes clicked to make one. Storyboards can be done in detail, with as much information in it as possible, which means that camera lensing, set area, props etc all included. This detailing helps all departments to plan what needs to be done by just looking at each frame. Sometimes there is not enough time or money to get the entire film boarded so key scene’s or just key frames are boarded. Further lack of time also calls for just doodles to be drawn by the side of the script to be a quick fix.
Where and to whom is a Storyboard the most useful?
It gives the directors, producers, cinematographers, commercial advertising clients, etc a tool to visualize the scenes and find potential problems before they occur. It helps in planning story flow for the edit and move shots around if need be. The AD’s can go ahead and plan the shoot accordingly to the board, which would help in saving time so that set up of shots don’t have to be repeated.
In commercials the storyboard holds quite a important place in the process. Besides the shooting crew which follows the board quite closely, the first use of the storyboard starts at the pre stage where the board is shared between agencies client and production house, here at this stage mostly each frame gets studied and based on this board changes are suggested based on brand guidelines and the image of the brand. Like the use of certain colours which match the brand, or the non use of certain objects because of legal issues. All of this helps so that all corrections could be made before going ahead with the shoot which helps in saving of re shoots or any surprises left on the day of the shoot. The meeting which happens with agency, production house and client is called a PPM - Pre Production Meeting, this is usually a few days before the shoot which gives enough time for the changes to happen, sometimes there are more than one PPM as either there too many changes or too many levels of clients to go through. (like when the main brand team belongs to another country)
The process of putting stills or a series of images along with a rough audio or a track together s called Animatics. This tool is increasingly used by advertisers and advertising agencies to research the effectiveness of their proposed storyboard before committing to a 'full up' television advertisement.
History of Storyboards?
It is said that the storyboarding process, in the form it is known today, was developed at theWalt Disney Studio during the early 1930s, the first storyboards at Disney evolved from comic-book like "story sketches" to illustrate concepts for animated cartoon short subjects. Websitesand other interactive media projects are the most recent known use of Storyboarding during thedesign phase.
When and how does a Storyboard come about?
Well first obviously there needs to be script or a screenplay, in advertising this is usually comes from the creative team, in films is the script or screen play writer from where this would come. Then the director has to break it into the no of shots or cuts that he wants to put into the film. Referencing through images is one of the key factors during the making of the board. Key things to know before starting are live location vs set, look of key props, the way the camera moves in certain cases and sometime look of the costumes are also needed. If it’s a live location then a recce of the place before or pictures of the place in detail, or if it’s a set then a proper layout design of the place helps, here a meeting with the production designer (if there is one) or the art director, where a brief is given (along with the references) and then they draw up a plan based on which a storyboard is done. This holds true for most cases but sometimes the director may want to make a board and then brief the art director what all details he is looking for in the set. Either which ways the director has to have references of the kind of look of furniture or style of house etc to show the storyboard artist (Most of these references are chosen keeping the target audience in mind that is intended)
The key to a good board is how much it helps each department, so the more detail in the board the better, the no of cut one wants to have decides the no of frames to be drawn, a fast paced film will have more number of cut’s therefore will have more frames. Montage, Action are usually the times when you have a lot of frames for a short period. For animation usually almost all key frames have to drawn as the team can then follow the direction correctly.
Different ways of making a Storyboard?
Besides the normal 2D drawing there is also 3D way of making storyboards. The advantage of 3D storyboards (also called 'technical previsualization') is they show exactly what the film camera will see using the lenses the film camera will use. The disadvantage of 3D is the amount of time it takes to build and construct the shots. 3D storyboards can be constructed using 3D animation programs or digital puppets within 3D programs. Some programs have a collection of low resolution 3D figures which can aid in the process. Some 3D applications allow cinematographers to create "technical" storyboards which are optically-correct shots and frames.
Making of storyboards are also helped with a number of tools, StoryBoard Quick, StoryBoard Artist, Storyboard Pro, FrameForge3D, etc all these software’s basically help a common man to make boards and not have to wait for a professional artist to come to work for you. They offer usually a range of sets and shapes of houses, cars etc, some of these lets you import your own pictures so you can use the pictures from your location to see what you film would look like. Most of these come with customable characters of male, female, age, height, colour etc etc.. you could also add audio to some of these and watch them back in proper timing.
If there is still doubt and clarity is required then shooting the script on a home camera or cellphone and then editing it down also helps in clearing the doubts, this could be done with the help of the actors as a rehearsal or with assistants, in any space. This edit help all to see the problems that one may encounter in the final shooting, like timing of actors, number of cuts required, more or less shots to be taken, etc.
Lastly for live locations or usually when the set is ready, (on the tech recce) what also could be done is a what is called a walk thru, wherein the cinematographer or the director uses a still camera (ideally with different lenses – like the ones used in the board) and does a run through all the shots in the same blocking that is intended for the final shoot. If one has the budget then even the film camera with the intended lenses can be used and the rehearsal could be recorded on the video assist. (not rolling the film) This process is usually called blocking and is the first time a Storyboard can be seen in the semi-final state before the shoot. These stills if it is shot properly could be used as the final board before shoot.
In Television serials and Feature films where time and money does not permit making of detailed storyboard, just stating camera cuts at the side of the script, Like dialogues are marked at the side from which to whic is Wide and what dialogues go as a close up etc. So whatever you do, a detailed board or a doodle, having a shot breakup at least in your head is important.
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