Storyboarding during pre-production helps communicate and visualize the scene and its shot composition. I would say it is critical for demonstrating to the cast, crew and investors your vision for your movie. It’s an invaluable way to create a cohesive artistic vision, and to get participation, collaboration and stakeholder buy-in.

Perhaps you can start with a holistic understanding of the script. Do your script breakdown; note the visual images that came to you while reading.

Now, there isn’t any one way to storyboard a film, and every director takes a different approach. (Given our ego driven industry, of course your way is best!)

We differ how thorough or sketchy we follow this process. An example: you may only storyboard a few key scenes. Perhaps you feel you need to do a thorough work out of the complicated scenes and that there is no need to pre-visualize simple set ups like a dialogue scene composed of alternating over the shoulder shots. On the other hand, you may believe in fully storyboarding every shot and scene in with production.

I’ve found that a director whose major body of work is in film do not tend to break down the shots to an Nth degree when storyboarding, while these that have an artistic background like to have things more fully realized. Take it as an observation, not a rule.

Regardless of the particular method start your process by storyboarding out the scenes that you feel strongest about. These are the scenes that most stuck out in your mind when you read the script, and that created the clearest mental image.

First, they are going to be the easiest to place and they are likely to be powerful images to you in the film, so all the other frames are going to somehow link to or be otherwise related to them. These are the starting point for the visual aesthetic of the whole film.

Draw out the shots, and try and make them as simple and easy to understand as possible. At best, a storyboard stands self evident and doesn’t require any explanation to convey its meaning. You can use a combination of graphic elements, like arrows (denoting either camera or character motion) and speech bubbles to help clarify the image.

While some people like to write notes, a great storyboard does not require this, it’s your call. A clear set of storyboards can be read like a comic book and will flow just as effortlessly and naturally.

Depending on how much feedback you like, you might also want to involve input of others on shots and camera movement. Directors of Photography will always ad value.

Once complete, you might want to take it one step further and actually animate them in your editing software, so you can watch them cut into each other in a short movie.

If you are working with a number of people, then storyboards can be a great way to convey your vision for the movie before you start making it. Even if you’re just working on the whole thing by yourself, creating even a loose set of storyboards can be a great way to help work through visual problems before shoot.

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