Storyboarding. What is it exactly?

If you look at the word “Storyboarding” itself, you can infer that it’s the “Boarding of a Story” and it does just that. Coined rather famously during the 1930s by Disney Studios, it takes the premise of a story that is to be made into a larger production (i.e Films, Games, Animation etc.) and places it into ‘boarded’ segments to be used as visual reference to map the initial scene.

Sir Alfred Hitchcock was known extensively for his storyboarding. It defined him as a director and producer as the use of storyboards would effectively allow him to map out the entire production before actors/filming had commenced. And generally, he rarely ever deviated from the initial plan. For a more in-depth look at his storyboards in contrast to his films, take a look at this link

Why we do it?

When formulating an idea that is primarily narrative or visually based, there tends to be an underlying story that needs be communicated. Generally when constructing ideas, the originator of the idea can only relay the idea through words as with each individual we see things differently in our own perception of the world, but a visualized piece can better show the idea as to what the artist is thinking themselves.

What needs to be conveyed?

Generally with a storyboard you get the hallmark imagery that shows a basic outline of what the scene will entail. The accompanying notes are usually there to support the idea going forward, for example if it was an animation there would be notes to suggest how the piece would be animated throughout the duration of the scene and all the technical information included additionally to further support the concept. If it were a Film, it would include a still of the scene and accompanying notes to suggest which order in which the characters would speak.

Take a look at this example i found whilst researching;


Kenneth Chang has done a great job here of relaying the simplicity and effectiveness of storyboarding here. Each of the individual boards has a basic sketch of what the scene will entail and a descriptive overview of the screen in accompanying notes. Each labelled with a corresponding number to correlate the correct sequence and even the boards from 2-3 have an annotation labelled “Pan” which infers to the reader that in the midpoint between the two will be said camera action.

Difference between storyboards and traditional illustration?

Illustration is exactly what it says on the tin, it’s a direct illustration of an object that the artist chooses to render. The difference is contrast to Storyboarding is the fact that it is simply a still image, with no annotation or directives to suggest any further involvement. One would argue that this leaves the illustration open for interpretation among viewers, in terms of the story behind it, whereas Storyboarding entails precisely what the artist is trying to relay.

In conclusion

I think that storyboarding is possibly one of thee most important tools to be used in the spectrum of designing any type of production. The necessity to visualize ideas is paramount and i find this to be a very useful exercise, that i will be sure to make better use of in the future.


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