And what is a storyboard anyway? Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a variety of answers. Most people in marketing, PR, and advertising circles have some idea in their heads about what constitutes a storyboard – but this concept can vary widely with what your production company can actually offer.
Storyboards are the visual shot-by-shot story preparation usually seen in the advertising production process. Commercials stories are short, and scenes can be expressed in a matter of 10 -12 panels. But what about a 15-minute business video, or a marketing video? Are storyboards still of any use? It would take a designer days, or weeks to construct a storyboard of every shot, and even then, may not be accurate. The simplest answer, is that in the case of long-form videos, the storyboard becomes a sampler of images that suggest locations, angles, and visual style, but cannot be used as an absolute reference for every shot to be filmed.
The producer will find a site recce to the business location very useful in gathering material for the storyboard, and can insert library or stock images to round-out the visual message. The storyboard now becomes a reference of key frames of scenes versus a strict shot-by-shot interpretation of the shoot.
A good storyboard, illustrated by a good designer may not be a cheap option if you are working on narrow constraints and a tight deadline. What are the alternatives? The most useful are software packages that help automate the visual process for you. You don’t need to be an expert either to achieve a smart result. A good one to try is Storyboard That which has a library of cartoon characters and scenes that you can drag and drop into each frame. You can add your own illustrations and logos as well, to customise the look of your own project.
Another option is to go for is ShotPro, an inexpensive shot designer-type app for Ipad, that allows for camera moves and placement of pre-generated models in scenes. Storyboard Quick is another very useful desktop package with integration of your own scanned and sketched art into backgrounds and scenes.
Getting into more sophisticated territory is ToonBoom, a fully featured package with tools that allow for animation, collaboration and high-end output. This is a product aimed at a more dedicated animation workflow and suits a larger team environment.
So, keep your costs and workflow manageable and invest in what works for you to give your clients and partners a visual flow – with only the bells and whistles you really need.