This video explains why storyboards are important, and has you look at some examples.
- [Instructor] Storyboards are essential tools used in the production of some of the greatest films and animations of all time. All great directors have used them, including Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton, Walt Disney, Kathryn Bigelow. They allow the director and the designers to work together finalizing the design before moving into production. So why do we use storyboards? Well, as we know, animation and motion graphics can be very expensive to produce so you can't afford to do multiple takes like you can with film.
So having a storyboard allows you to work out problems at the early stage before production takes place. It gives you and your clients a common point of reference to compare ideas with. You can try out multiple ideas or shots using the storyboards. You can get an overview of the timing and rhythm of the piece. It just makes collaboration easier. We've all had times where we've described something to the client and the client's misinterpreted it. For example, if I say, "Okay, I'm going to do an animation of a girl in a red dress," I might be thinking about a little five-year-old girl in a red party dress, where the client might be thinking of a woman in a kind of slinky dress.
So the example of a girl in a red dress can mean different things to two different people. Once I've developed some ideas for my project, then comes the point where I go off and sketch my storyboard. Here's an example of a storyboard from Lucy at Treehouse Storyboards in London. It's an advert for a Whiskas cat food. This is quite a highly detailed storyboard and it was shot in a 4x3 aspect ratio. I've provided you with a storyboard template in the exercise files folder. The file's called storyboard_screen and there's an Illustrator version and a PNG version.
This can be printed out or you can sketch directly into it in Illustrator or any other application. I simply divide an A3 sheet of paper into 12 rectangles with space above, underneath, and between each one for comments and symbols. I've also saved an art boards file which is called storyboard screens. We'll have a look later how you can draw into these separate art boards in Adobe Illustrator. The storyboard doesn't need to be a work of art. This one, illustrated here, is pretty basic using only four frames to tell a whole story.
Sometimes this is all that's needed. For example, I might be just creating the storyboard for myself to work out my own ideas, and this is adequate for that. Stick figures are used here to represent the characters. This storyboard's really only for working out timing and camera moves. You can see that I've written notes underneath each of the images, reminding myself of what the camera's going to do. In this instance I would accompany the storyboard with my hand drawn sketches of the main characters, so that the producers or the client can get a clear idea of what the final characters will look like.
This storyboard needs to be a little bit more detailed than the last one. It needs to illustrate clearly how one shot leads into another. You could see the timing above and below each of the frames. Notice on frame three and frame eight, I've drawn direction arrows to demonstrate the movement happening at this point in the animation. And here are a few frames from the finished animation. It's good practice to look at comic books for ideas of how to put together storyboards. They illustrate a sequence of events in the same way that we want our storyboards to do.
Comics can give you some excellent ideas for camera angles and unusual compositions. The Marvel Comics in particular, use some fantastic perspective in their frames and should be studied. Here's an example of a storyboard from Robert Butler, which obviously uses comic book style framing as an inspiration. In this storyboard the figures had to be more detailed and the faces needed to show expressions. The whole video is much more focused on people and their moods than the last two examples which were more abstract.
I find that the easiest way to begin is sketch out rough compositions using cylinders and cubes to represent the shapes that make up the composition. You can draw virtually anything using this technique. Next time you're out and about look at some everyday objects and imagine building them from these primitive shapes. This will help you form a good understanding of shape, form, and the underlying construction of objects. You can use any materials for your storyboard. Markers, charcoal, paint, crayons. You can also use digital software which we'll have a look at later.
I tend to use a non-photo blue pencil, and then I go over it with regular pen or pencil. The great thing about non-photo blue, is it won't show up when we photograph a final image. I'll show you how you can use Photoshop to get rid of non-photo blue in your drawings later. It's also handy to have a compass, ruler, setsquare, and french curves nearby, to help you draw more complex shapes. Here's another example from Robert Butler, and illustrator and storyboard artist from the UK.
A storyboard can be changed easily to accommodate new ideas without costing the team vast amounts of time and money. This leaves the production time devoted to perfecting the techniques needed to tell the story. It's important to remember a few things when you're drawing a storyboard. As I said before, you don't want to spend too long deliberating over your storyboard. It is supposed to be a rough series of ideas which can be easily adjusted to suit your clients' needs. So try not to be too precious about it.
However you might find that a lot of producers and directors, won't be able to visualize your designs in the same way that you can. This can cause problems when the producer dismisses a rough sketch because he or she cannot imagine it, in its finished state. To overcome this problem, I often provide two or three stills, which are set up to approximate the colors, textures, and overall quality of the finished piece. This can be done easily by mocking up a few layers in AfterEffects, Photoshop, or Illustrator.
- Drawing digitally with the Adobe iOS apps
- Getting ideas down quickly with Photoshop and Illustrator
- Adding audio, animation, and effects with Premiere Pro
- Using Dynamic Link with After Effects
- Reviewing and approval the final animatic with Frame IO