Filmmaking / Directing : Storyboarding - by Lauran Childs

Lauran Childs

Storyboarding -

I’ve finally just started doing the storyboard for one of my movies - about time, after I’ve been writing scripts for a few years - and I can’t believe how time consuming it is to portray my clear idea of the movie into shots. I’m doing it by drawing out oblongs, cut them into areas and draw the people, lines, camera angle/movement. Don’t know how best to describe it.
Does anyone know an easier, faster way to do this? There must be.
I’ve seen storyboard facilities in programs such as Celtx but didn’t much feel that I could use it effectively. But I am a bit of a technophobe.
Thanks!

David Trotti

FrameForge is a popular tool. The industry standard is hiring a professional storyboard artist and generating original art. Most directors just do shot lists and only storyboard complex scenes (like those involving stunts, VFX or very precisely coordinated elements) or to serve as concept art to guide the design teams. There are directors who story board whole films, but it's such a tedious and time consuming task (as you're discovering) that these tend to just be very big budget films with professional storyboard artists employed or incredibly driven individuals who just have to draw it themselves more for their own clarity than any practical purpose for the crew (other than maybe the DP, who should actually be involved in that process as he or she will have to execute those shots). I would say unless you are in the prep process of a financed film I wouldn't put too much effort into storyboarding any scenes that aren't simply meant to sell your skills as the director of your own script by showcasing your compositional eye and creative vision. And in that case, just pick the scenes that are most emotionally resonant to you or are truly spectacular visually and have those rendered by a professional artist. It's not as expensive as you'd think for a few scenes but it's a nice touch when you pitch yourself as a director if you show you have a clear vision in a nice professional package.

David Trotti

I should also say to save time drawing those oblong boxes if you're going to draw it all yourself, just create an 8.5x11 page in any paint program with eight boxes in the approximate aspect ratio you would like to film in (16x9, 1.85...). Two across and four down. Then print to your hearts content and draw in those.
Then after you draw your shots by hand, scan them in and clean them up in the paint program. You can then duplicate similar shots and cut-and-paste them into any order you like.

Lauran Childs

Thanks David, very useful! Actually I was an artist but yes, doing shot lists sounds way more efficient. Also I’m not too great at using things like paint programs but definitely sounds worth trying.

Francisco Casals

Simply out of curiosity, understanding you're a writer/director, why did you decided to spend time on drafting storyboards? Is it for your own production or just experimenting with something new? Because I find screenplaywriting and directing time consuming as it is, and for me, I'll rather delegate that to a sketch artist or the DP.

Royce Allen Dudley

Storyboards can be far faster to create than writing words or explaining a scene to an actual artist who then interprets with elaborate work, and you get the shots in you head on paper for all to see. Stick men and squared lines for architecture suffice for images, no art skill required; Hitchcock used a pen squiggle in a frame to indicate "violent explosion" so if simplicity worked then, it works now. The diary / notebook maker Moleskine sells a pocket storyboard book you can sketch up and scan for dissemination; each frame is 1:33 with center extracted 1:85 hashes that are close to 16x9 for sketch purposes, and there is equal adjacent space for a note, scene and shot number etc. I find these work great. As suggested by others, individual storyboard sheets or multi-frame sheets and a 3 ring binder can work well too, especially if you expect revisions. The main reason for storyboards is to get multiple people on the same visual map. An artist can be reserved for production design, set elevations and wardrobe if needed; on most things outside major features, storyboards just aren't a thing; the exception is advertising... commercials will shoot to very specific frames depicted on boards, with the shots even pre-timed. Even so, they are simple, not painterly. Sometimes animatics are used; a pre-shoot cheaply animated version of the scene for purposes of relating timing.

Lauran Childs

Francisco - good point. I don’t have funding to pay other people yet. I’m so looking forward to that.

Lauran Childs

Thanks Royce, I’ll follow your suggestions!

Francisco Casals

Lauran Childs why don' t you network and TRADE services with someone who is better at it than you. Film is HIGHLY collaborative medium, you can decide to take on many hats but more often than not, this hurts the end product. Assuming your film is no budget or micro budget or something like that you can search and browse for other people at your same skill level or even more if they really love the script where they will do it just for film credit, for them to also develop their resumes or reels.

Lauran Childs

Thanks Francisco! I’m actually very nervous of that because as an artist and woman, I’m really sick of people asking me to work for free. But yes, maybe film credit is a good thing to suggest. I would LOVE someone to do a budget for me on that basis.

Francisco Casals

You actually DON'T work for free if there's a fair trade in regard the VALUE of the project. For example, I have directed shootings fro free BUT using agency models, photographers with impressive portfolios, established makeup artists and so on. There's VALUE in the collaboration because ALL of us gain, all of us get an EXCELLENT end product. If a nobody or someone who is JUST starting their careers ask me to direct something for free, I give them a resounding NO. Does it makes sense?

Rew Jones

There are lots of templates online. Pages even used to have one built in, I’m pretty sure No Film School has a few options. Do stick figures in there, draw well enough enough to communicate with your crew, not well enough to eat up all your time.

Lauran Childs

Thanks guys! Yes I’ve downloaded some useful forms, including shot lists.

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