We go for it when we take photographs and amateur films—not thinking about the lighting situation. For some, that’s because they like to plan on the day and during the shoot. However, this also brings out a lot of hiccups when you don’t plan and storyboard most films and some photos. Storyboarding was one of my tips for photography and film in a recent post. However, it might not have been convincing!
So how does storyboarding help a story, especially a visual one? Why should photographers bother storyboarding a shot before taking it?
Today I’m going to go in-depth about the pros of storyboarding for visual projects.
The first thing storyboarding helps with, whether it’s photography, film or animation, is composition. Composition is how everything is aligned in the frame or on a picture. And composition is essential as if it’s off, it can completely change the visual message you are trying to convey to the audience.
For example, you have a close up of two people looking at each other in red lighting. The lighting, composition, and shot visual cues would make most people assume these two people are in love.
But then you change the shot from a close up to an extreme wide shot. It looks like they’re about to fight each other under some very aesthetic red lighting.
It helps break down complicated shots.
Sometimes, when you’re filming, you want to do something complicated as it’s in the script, and you have no idea how to do it. It can help you plan out the composition, but a storyboard can help you break down a shot into more parts to figure out what needs to happen.
It can also provide a basic plan for what can happen in the film and prepare for it but then enable for change if needed without worrying about extra equipment that can eat into precious shooting time.
Storyboarding helps the team.
If you’ve got a team behind you, a storyboard can also better help others understand the vision. As they’re following your direction and verbal communication may not always be clear. Providing a visual reference makes it more straightforward and enables everyone to be on the same page and work better together towards the same vision. It’ll make communication to others clearer too, which will make everything run more smoothly behind the scenes!
Do you have to be an artist for storyboarding?
Whenever you ask someone to do any drawing, they automatically assume you need to be a good artist to do it.
With storyboarding, you don’t have to be a good artist for many reasons.
The first reason is that you’re not trying to sell these. They are just a simple plan of shots and lighting that a director/photographer or animator wants to follow. As long as the director/ animator (which will usually be you) understands it, then it’s okay.
Secondly, it’s a plan. You don’t need to put too much detail into how everything looks. Just draw stick men and blocks for cars as long as you’ve got the composition and where people will be down, then it’s all fine!
Thirdly trying to get the storyboard artistically accurate wastes time. It can make you focus on details you don’t need and cut into the time you can be filming. Paying too much attention to the elements and being artistically pleasing can ruin your creativity, too, as you too hung up on a tiny thing!
How is a storyboard laid out?
Many of you want to storyboard your shots but are unsure how to layout a shot on a storyboard. I did go over this in a recent blog post, albeit very briefly.
When storyboarding, create a bunch of squares. You then number them for which shot is which- You do this, so the shots stay organised and know where you are.
And then draw what will be in each shot. (The amount of detail is up to you.) You then make the square smaller or make the drawing larger for a close-up or zoom. If you want motion, you can put arrows on the shot or outline of the square to symbolise this.
Under every shot, put a description of the camera angle. What’s happening in the shot, and any transitions or pans. You do this for every shot for most or all scenes.
An example of a description:
Shot 1: Extreme close-up of a man looking into the camera then pan right with blur into shot two.
While storyboarding is used more in film and animation, it can be instrumental in photography. We should start using this technique more for more professional shots, especially if you’re using it in your portfolio, as it will save time and make you more prepared!
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