Film Directing: 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 a 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 visually, 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 shoot by illustrations of how the movie 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 quickly. 

The storyboard drawing is also an excellent chance to try things. If you can draw well or are using a storyboard artist and are not sure about a few shots, you can ask the storyboard artist to try different shots until you 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 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 learn the basic rules of drawing like the rule of thirds, how to draw basic figures, and basic rules of perspective, you’ll be okay.

There is some excellent 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

It depends on the kind of film and scenes you are drawing. In dialogue scenes, you usually won’t need to go into in-depth details, but in action scenes, more information will be required, like the length of every shot and sometimes even how fast the object in the shot is going to move around the frame.

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 site.

Homework

Your homework 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.