Film storyboard – The director’s tool

How to make film storyboard

film storyboard definition

A film storyboard is a pre-production tool that is a must tool for every film director. As the director of the film, you are in charge of everything that gets in the frame and the storyboard is a tool that helps you deliver your director’s vision to the rest of the crew members. You can see the film storyboard as a transition tool between your script to the film. It is also a tool that helps the production of actors blocking and camera setups.  

The great advantage of the storyboard is that it makes you think in a visual kind of way, which is what filmmaking is all about.  The storyboard is a series of pictures that each picture represents a shot in the film. It looks kind of like a comic book. It describes the shots that are going to be shot by illustrations of how the frame is going to look like.

Some beginner directors fear the storyboard stage, but with time and practice, you’ll learn to develop your visual thinking very easily. 

The storyboard drawing is also a good chance to try things. If you can draw well or you are using a storyboard artist and you are not sure about a few shots, you can ask the storyboard artist to try different shots until you’ll find the one you’ll like.

When to start working on a film storyboard?

The most important tip I can give you about drawing a storyboard is to plan it carefully in your mind before you start the drawing. Know exactly what you want to see before you take it out to the storyboard.

Your next step will be to write a shooting script. The shooting script is a list of all the shots in every scene. You can start the work on the storyboard only after you decided which shots and camera angles are required to express your interpretation of the movie script. 

Do I need to know how to draw?

Well, you don’t have to, but it will help. You don’t have to be a sketch artist, but if you’ll learn the basic rules of drawing like the rule of third, learn how to draw basic figures and basic rules of perspective, you’ll be good.

There is some great storyboard software you can use, so I recommend checking it up too.

How many details does a film storyboard need?

Most of the time the details you’ll need will be, the number of the shot, the camera angle, camera movement if there are any and a short description of what’s going on in it, but it really depends on the kind of film and scenes you are drawing. In dialogue scenes, you usually won’t need to go into deep details, but in action scenes, more details will be needed for the length of every shot and sometimes even how fast the object in the shot is going to move around the frame.

Basically, there are 3 details you need to have with each picture:

  • If there are special effects or camera movements, you should write them down
  • What happens in the shot. that includes dialogue if they are important to the shot
  • The location of the shot and time of day

It is a good idea to take pictures of your locations before you start drawing and if you are using a storyboard artist, you can even take him to the location.

 

Homework

Your homework for today is to find a script of a movie that exists (you can find many scripts in google), print a few pages from it and start drawing them as you see it. Then look at the real movie and compare what they did with what you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film Script Format

Write Your Story in a Screenplay Format

Now you have your story structured and characters well developed, You need to write your story in a professional film script format. This is where all the creative work kind of stops, since professional film script format  has very strict rules, so be careful.

Now:

Many writers use  a script writing software to write in script format even if you plan to use a screenwriting software, you should go through the rules mentioned here, so you can make sure that everything is in place. It may sound complicated at the start, but, trust me, once you’ll understand the basic, it will come easily to you.

I am going to walk you through the basic format rules and if you want to deepen your knowledge on the subject, I recommend reading the book The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style

Film Script Format’s First Page

The first page needs to have the title on about line 25, on the page center in quotes and in caps letters.

Four lines under the title should be the “Written by” (also centered) and 2-3 lines after that should be the name of the writer.

I also like to write my contact information at the bottom of the page.

Writing The Scenes

The important thing to remember is that every scene needs to start with the details of who, what, where and when. The script should be written is present tense since revealing to us on the paper as we read it, as if we are watching the film. 

The Slugline

The first line that describes the scene called slugline, which is the headline of the scene. Each time your character moves from one location to another, it’s a new scene and you’ll need a new headline. The slugline reveals to us the number of the scene, is it shot inside or outside (writing as INT/EXT), the location of the scene and the time of day (day or night).

The order here is very important.

It should all be in capital letters, so it should look like this:

      12.INT.LIOR’S ROOM.NIGHT

The reason for being strict about the slugline is so the producer/cinematographer/sound man and all other crew members can go through the script quickly and get the general idea about the production.

For example, they can learn how many scenes in the film need lighting (those that are shot inside) and how many are going to use sunlight (those that are shot outside at daytime). If you’ll read the lesson about Script Breakdown, you will understand why this is very important when working on the budget

This is why many directors and producers ask for the script in a Final Draft format because it makes it easy for them to divide the scenes like that.

The Scene Description

After writing the slugline, you should write the scene description. The scene description is built from a few short sentences and should give us a clear image of what we are going to see on screen.It should be written two spaces below the slugline and between the margins.  Every scene will start with a scene description, but it can be written during the scene every time something happens that is not a dialogue.
When a character is introduced for the first time, you should write her name in capital letters and add a short description of her.

Remember! You can only write what we see. You can’t write stuff like “Leroy is sad”, you should show us he is sad. You have to remember that the audience is not going to read the script. You can sometimes use metaphors to set the mood, but be careful there.

So it what we have now will look like this:

      12.INT.LIOR’S ROOM.NIGHT

      Leroy, a fat, 40 years old man, is sitting with a small dog next to him. Leroy is           crying while looking at pictures and the dog is licking him.

Notice I didn’t write “sitting with HIS dog”. If I want the audience to understand that the dog belongs to Leroy, I need to find away show it.

Writing The Dialogues

The talking character’s name should be written 3 lines below the description and about 4 inches from the edge in capital letters. The character’s lines will be 1 line below and about 3 inches from the edge.

The whole thing should lool like this:

      12.INT.LEROY’S ROOM.NIGHT

     Leroy, a – 40 years old man, is sitting with a small dog next to him. Leroy is              crying while looking at pictures and the dog is licking him.

DOG

                                         Hey Leroy, are you OK?

LEROY

                                         No. I miss my girl

Adding action lines

Now, Leroy wants to get up in the middle of the conversation. This is how we write it:

      12.INT.LEROY’S ROOM.NIGHT

      Leroy, a – 40 years old man, is sitting with a small dog next to him. Leroy is crying while
looking at pictures and the dog is licking him.

DOG

                                         Hey Leroy, are you OK?

LEROY

                                         No. I miss my girl

DOG

                                         Why?                                                                                              

          Leroy gets up without looking at him

LEROY

                                        I don’t want to talk about it!

There are much more and if you want to get perfect in it, 

You can also get Screenplay template from this link 

Free Film School Online

Digital Video Editing for a Comedy

Video Editing To Comedy

digital video editing for comedy
digital video editing for a comedy

In this digital video editing lesson, We’ll talk about digital video editing for a comedy. In comedy, the digital video editing has an important role. A joke can fail or succeed by changing one frame or two, so understanding and learning the art of digital video editing in a comedy is very important.

What kind of comedy is it?

The type of comedy you work on will have a lot of influence on the video editing. This is why your first job as a video editor will be to find out what kind of comedy it is. For example, in character-based comedies like Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Austin Powers, Peter Sellers and so on, the editor will have to meet certain expectations from the audience regarding the comic character. In this cases, if the comic character is doing a good job, you shouldn’t do too much editing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7g-K0bvmOs

In Satires, the humor can be vastly exaggerated and one of the editor’s decision will be when to stop the joke. If the joke is at the expense of the other, the video editor will highlight the brutality of what happened to the victim up to a certain limit, when it is no longer funny.

If the joke is at the expense of the other, the video editor will highlight the brutality of what happened to the victim up to a certain limit, when it is no longer funny.

Make sure you completely understand the type of comedy you are editing and what is it purpose. Is it to make the main comic character look very funny or crazy or is it the situations that need the focus.

Timing in digital video editing for a Comedy 

In verbal comedies such as sitcoms, the video editor can’t do a lot but using his timing sense. The timing sense is an important tool the video editor must develop when working on a comedy. The editor should keep asking himself, how long can we pull that joke on? When do I raise the rhythm of the editing? And when to put the punchline?

In sitcoms timing will also be to decide how long the crowed laughter is going to last.

The only way to decide what’s the right timing for each joke is to simply try. There are many ways to show each joke so be patient and don’t be an afraid to keep trying new ideas.

Get involved in production

I recommend visiting the shooting set when you can. It will help you to get into the atmosphere of the humor in the film and you can also give the director notes that will help in the editing room. Visiting the set might be hard in feature films, but can work great on sketches, short films or even sitcoms.

Make sure the everything is clear

When the audience is confused, he won’t be relaxed enough to laugh at the jokes. Many directors like to show unusual camera angles – personally, I thing that is the kind of thing that interrupt the comedy. In a case like this, you should have a talk with the director and to understand what id more important for him? To show these great camera angles or that audience will laugh?

The main tip you need to understand here is that the more realistic your situation is going to be presented (even when it far fetched from reality), the easier it will be for the audience to relate and to laugh at it.

Reaction shot – the #1 tool for digital video editing for a comedy

The reaction shot is a very important tool of the comedic editing. It is a shot that shows how the characters in the situation react to the situation. I recommend looking for the good re- action shots in the going through the rushes stage. The reaction shot allows the audience to relate to the characters and express what they are feeling, but can’t express it. It also gives time for the audience to laugh before the joke continues.

 

In this example, Dr. Evil talk about his childhood life. The reaction shots show us how the other characters are starting to understand that he is crazy and the more they realize it, the more we are on the same level and the scene becomes funnier.

If you want to edit a comedy, I really recommend watching lots of comedies and understand what is it that the video editor does, that makes the joke work.

Post-production

Working With Post-Production

post production is an important stage to understand. The last changes in the field of digital filmmaking have made this stage less expensive, but with the many new options out there, it is also a lot more complicated.  Many independent productions fail to understand the importance of the post-production process, and by that, the whole production either fails or not keeping up in schedule or simply taking too long which make everything much more expensive. understanding the basic is a must for every producer and director.

post-production definition

When you are working in the industry, it’s amazing to see how many producers don’t really understand what does post production mean. I’m going to explain it now.

After you finished all the shooting it’s time to assemble everything together. In this post lesson, I will talk about the post-production workflow. If you read my pre-production lesson, you know that the post-production process should really start at the pre-production. Back then you’ve already decided how the movie is going to be shot and edited. You’ve also planned already how much time the post-production stage is going to take and how much money you are going to spend on it. You should have also known where you are going to edit everything and who are the crew that will do all that.
Some producers even send the film’s footage during the shooting to the editing room, so the editor will start going through them.

Even if have a post manager, you should have some knowledge on to the technical issues of the post production and at the post-production’s crew jobs and what each one of them does.

what is post production in a film?

Many directors and producers believe that the post-production stage will fix all of their shootings error. That is not true. I mean, you can fix a lot in the post, but it is usually the basic errors and some of them can be fixed, but will cost a lot. Sometimes there’s simply not enough time to fix everything, so don’t count on it too much.

stages of post production

Post production – step 1 – Prepare for video editing

Well, the truth is you were supposed to look for the editor in the pre-production stage, but since it a post-production issue, I’ll give you some tips about it now:

  • The video editor is the one that creates your final draft of the movie, so don’t look for the cheapest video editor out there. You need a video editor that know his editing software perfectly and has enough experience to know when to cut.
  • When you look for video editors, see what are their strengths and if it is what you need for your film.
  • You should meet with the editor before shooting, to see if there is anything you can do to make the editing process easy.
  • I recommend reading the lesson about stages in video editing to learn the process better.
  • Before meeting with your video editor, Organize your tapes and SD cards. Each tape or SD card should be tagged with a number, location, and date of shoot.
  • If you want to save money, you can rent video editing rooms in “dead hours” like night time or the-the weekend.

 

Post production – step 2 – Color correction

The color correction is a stage you get to only after the editing is final and been approved by everyone. Color correction is working with the colors elements of the frame like saturation, contrast, and the balance of colors. You should send your film to color correction, but if you don’t have enough money for that, maybe you can send only a few scenes that have really bad lighting. This is the kind of decision, you should make during the shooting while watching the rushes.

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Sometimes you can ask the video editor to do some basic color correction like playing with contrast and saturation, but only if the editor is professional and has the right equipment to deal with it. Sometimes colors may look good on the computer but bad on the big screen. That is why colorists have an expensive monitor that helps them know how to deal with the colors. If you want the video editor to deal with the colors, you have to make sure he knows it right at the start.

You should make sure the editor knows how the colorist would like to get the movie (does he need the project with media files or one big file…)

Post production – step 3 – Take care of film’s soundtrack

There are few ways to get music to your film. Many producers like to use music libraries, mostly to save money. There are many music libraries out there. I know many of my friends like The Premium Beat site. They have many royalty free music with high-quality track and SFX.  

I kind of like music libraries, but not for every movie and not for every scene. You got to remember that these music pieces are sold for everyone for whatever use they wish to do with it, so it might suck to use a piece of music on a dramatic scene and, later on, to find it on a commercial for cell phones.

Another way is creating an original score with a few musicians. If you are doing that, you have to go all the way. Hire as many musicians as you need and record it in the best place you can. Before you go that road, you need to think how important is it for your film to use original score.
These days you can find a musician that play many instruments through a computer software that sounds pretty good. You can also try to get a discount by maybe letting him keep some of the rights to the music,

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The third way is playing records. It can be cheaper if you’ll use unknown songs. If you find a song that you really believe, it can do good to your movie, you need to start working on license agreements.

Post production – step 4 – Sound editor

You’ll be surprised from what  the sound designer can do for your film. After getting the final draft of the video editing, you should send the movie to the sound designer. The sound designer is in charge of the dialogue, the sound effects, and the music and with all these threes, he creates a new dimension to your film. The sound is important to help the continuity between shots, but it is also a great tool to create manipulations on the audience, so you really shouldn’t skip that stage.

Sometimes, on small projects, the video editor can work on the sound by himself, but on bigger films, it is recommended to work with a professional sound designer.

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When working with a sound designer, you should send him the film at the rough cut stage, so he’ll already have a first look at it. Send it with notes and ideas and music cue sheets.

I recommend reading my posts on sound design, especially the introduction to sound design and the stages of sound design

So as I said, you really should start working on the post-production at the pre-production stage. There are a few reasons for that, but the main ones are you are going to be very tired when you’ll get to the post-production stage. You simply won’t have the strength to deal with contracts and negotiations, but also because you don’t want any surprises at that stage. 

That’s it for now. Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Important Digital Video Terminology

Learning The Digital Video Terminology

Learning the video terms can be a little dull sometimes, but it’s very important to understand the tools you are using as a cinematographer, director and video editor.  Not knowing them will not only hurt your film but also will make you look bad in front of other peers in the industry. You can be very creative, but if you don’t know the basic digital video terminology, you might look unprofessional.

Now:

You don’t need to be afraid from the technical terms, they’re pretty easy to understand, but there are too many of them. In this cinematography lesson, I’m not going to go through all of the video glossaries, but I am going to explain the terms in great detail. If you’ll want to find out more about these stuff I recommend reading The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age.  This book is kind of known as the bible of filmmaking. It talks about more than just technical terms, but it focuses on the technical parts just enough to set you on your way. 

So let’s get started:

Aspect ratio

A term that started to be more important for cameramen these days. Aspect ratio indicates the size of the picture by stating the relationship of the width and the height size. It will be presented with two number separated with a colon. The first one will indicate the width of the frame and the second number will indicate the height of the frame.
In the aspect ratio 16:9 the 16 is relating to the width and the 9 is to the height,
but it is important to remember that the number is not declaring the size of the frame only the relationship of the with the height, so the aspect ratio 16:9 can be also represented as 8:4.5.

The Aspect ratio term used to be a simple term since they were only two – 4:3 and 1.85:1. The four to three ratio and the 1.33:1 are known as standard definition (SD) and the 4:3 is known mainly the way most of the old TV shows were shot. The 1.85:1 has the widescreen look and could only be achieved by a film.
The digital age brought different kinds of new aspect ratios, but the most important one is the 16:9 ratio wich belongs to all high definition formats (HD) and this is the ratio all TV and filmmakers are using more often this days, since it’s the only way to get the widescreen film look. And of course, the is the 4K ratio, wich is 1.9:1

The aspect ratio is very important for video editors as they define the project in these settings

Quick Tip

When shooting your video, you must take under consideration that showing your video in a different aspect ratio medium may cause loosing parts of the frame or showing parts, you didn’t want the audience to see. This is the reason that sometimes when you watch on a 4:3 TV set a film that was shot in a 1.85:1 ratio, you can see the boom mike at the upper side of the frame. If you don’t want to lose parts of the frame simply shoot within the “Safe Zone” of your camera.

Frame rate

A shot is built from frames. Frame rates, also known as FPS (Frame Per Second) is the term that indicates how many frames are shot in each second. When films first started it was 16 frames per second. Since then the frame rate has risen up a lot.  Today there are 8 types of frame rates to shoot at.
Choosing the one you want to shoot at got to do a lot with the kind of look you want your film to have and how your film is going to be shown.

HD videos can go up to 60 fps, but in the SD world, the most used frame rate in America even today is the 24 fps. Other parts of the world use 25 fps for television and 24fps for a film.

The frame rate can determine how slow or fast a camera will shoot. This means that if you shoot in a lower frame rate the shot will be fast forward.

The frame rate is very important for video editors as they define the project in these settings.

Quick tip

When shooting make sure the frame rate isn’t changing or you will have a lot of problems at the editing room, unless there it is very important for your film to do that.

Image Resolution

Each picture of the frame is built from small pixels, which are like little dots. The image resolution is usually defined by the number of Pixels in the picture and described by the number of horizontal and vertical pixels.
NTSC frames are composed define as 720X480 which means the width is 720 and the length is 480.

PAL videos are 720X576

Full HD is 1920X1080.

The bigger the image resolution is the “heavier” the file will be.

When video editing, changing the resolution by scaling the video will hurt the picture. If you shot at 720X576, you can’t turn it into HD

Exposure

You should already know that light is the main tool the camera uses to create a picture. The light is bouncing on the photographed object and into the camera’s lens. The amount of light entering the lens, will set the amount of information we’ll get, but also the mood of the shot.

This amount of light is defined by the exposure. If you bring too much light into the camera’s lens, you will overexpose the shot. If there’ll be not enough light, you will underexpose it.

You can control the amount of light that enters your camera with the shutter speed and the iris (aperture) settings. Increasing the shutter will bring more light in. Usually, you will want it in the middle- not too bright and not too dark.

Some cinematographer uses a light meter to measure the intensity of the light, but if you don’t have one, the best way to set the exposure is to get as close as you can to the object, you want to shoot. Then you move backwards into the shot you planned while setting the exposure through the way it showed you at the close-up

So that’s about it. If you want me to write more articles like this, please let me know. As I said in the home page, I would like to focus more on the creative stuff, but some of you emailed me and asked me to talk about some digital video terminology, so I did.

Again, if you want to deepen your knowledge in the digital video terminology, I recommend reading The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age.

This book will explain everything you need to know in great detail and very easy language.