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7 Steps of How to Make a Storyboard for a Video: Professional Tips and Examples

Aug, 10, 2021
Christina
Senior Account Executive

Introduction

When we think of storyboards, many picture pencil-drawn sketches that look very much like the comic books we all used to read. While storyboards are indeed comprised of sketched out illustrations, their main goal is much more than for simple entertainment purposes.

In the video industry, storyboards play an essential role in the production process, and designers follow quite pragmatic objectives when drawing those out.

In this blog, we want to shed some light on the storyboarding stage, show you how to create a storyboard for a video, and why this process shouldn’t be overlooked if you want to create an effective business video 🎬

Summary:

  1. Storyboarding for Video: Key Definitions and Concepts
  2. How to Storyboard a Video: Easy Guide for Beginners
  3. How to Create a Video Production Storyboard That Perfectly Describes Your Concept
  4. Final Thoughts
  5. Consider Our Company Your Trusted Partner

 

Storyboarding for Video: Key Definitions and Concepts

A storyboard is a set of sketches that helps to visualise the key scenes of a video. Sketches, in turn, are created based on the textual description for each scene or sequence that comes from a video script. 

The storyboard is designed to show how the in-video environment and main scenes will look in the final footage, what characters and how many of them will be present in a video, how the story will progress, etc ✏️

Having a storyboard created is equally important for both the client and production team for several reasons:

  • For clients, it’s a great opportunity to ‘visualize’ the script scenario prepared by a production studio. Storyboards also help to reduce additional adjustments and edits that may take place during the production process.
  • By creating a storyboard for a video, the production team can figure out the exact number of animation scenes that need to be designed, and calculate the total length of a future video.
  • Storyboards assist production teams in identifying potential mistakes and flaws, and allows designers to fix them before they step into final animation. 
  • For artists and illustrators, storyboards serve as a document with technical requirements that navigate their work. It also improves project collaboration, and saves time and client budgets.

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🥕 How much does a video cost – the most comprehensive article on pricing 

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👉 To give you an idea of how the final result should look, take a look at the following storyboard example — a complete storyboard from the TTRS project developed by our team:

When it comes to the storyboard structure, it will generally include the following elements:

  • Number of frames
  • Scene timeline (voiceover timeline + voiceover text)
  • Textual description of the actions taking place in a scene, descriptions for camera movements and scene transitions
  • Background detalization (textual, for each individual scene)
  • Location and dimensions of on-screen text
  • Sound effects and music requirements

Now that we’ve touched on the purpose and benefits of a storyboard, let’s take a look at what it takes to create a video production storyboard that will help your project hit the mark 👇

 

How to Storyboard a Video: Our Suggestions 

1️⃣ Set Goals for Your Project

Before you proceed to building a storyboard, it’s necessary to set goals for your future video. This will help you to:

  • establish a clear and compelling storyline; 
  • indicate the optimal video length that will be enough to tell your story;
  • add emotional accents that will resonate with the target audience; and,
  • ensure that the final result won’t jeopardize your marketing expectations.

Goal setting is an extremely important stage in the video production process and it will help you to understand how to build a storyboard; however, many businesses still prioritize the visual component over the actual objectives. In fact, the goal setting stage is what can ‘make or break’ your entire advertising campaign.

In one of our recent articles where we gave a more detailed overview on the video production process, we covered this subject in more detail. So make sure to check it out, as well.

CLEAR GOALS = HIGH-QUALITY SCRIPT/STORYBOARD = HIGH-PERFORMING VIDEO 🚀

2️⃣ Source Ideas and References

In this stage, it’s important to source as many animation ideas and reference images as possible. The only requirement here would be the correspondence of ideas to your goals and project expectations.

You want to particularly source ideas for transitions in-between shots, frame composition features, character movements, etc. You can also discover explainer video references that will offer you new ways of presenting your idea, or visual metaphors that can be used to more effectively communicate your core messages. This will also guide artists on how to develop a storyboard according to a certain vision.

When it comes to the length or style of the reference videos — these characteristics don’t really play a significant role in the storyboarding process, and thus shouldn’t limit your search. This means you can take great ideas from short 30-second ads, like this (arc-like shot, 3 sec.):

Which are as effective as longer explainer videos, like this (photobook presentation, 45 sec.):

It doesn’t really matter whether your storyboard reference is a 20-second short ad or 5-minute long business video — as long as it remains useful enough to take inspiration from 🙌

Even though the style and format of an animation video are secondary characteristics to look at (when it comes to sourcing the reference examples), the choice of style and type is an important aspect in the video production process. For more information about animation styles and types, check out this article from our blog.

3️⃣ Carefully Consider the Timeline

The storyboard serves as a foundation for your future video. Thus, it needs to have a starting point, culmination point with key scenes, and an ending point. If we’re talking about commercial explainer videos, the structure would normally be as follows:

COMMERCIAL EXPLAINER VIDEO

 

OPENING/INTRODUCTION PART → PROBLEM DESCRIPTION → OFFERING A SOLUTION → CALL-TO-ACTION (download item, click on a link, call, subscribe, etc.) 

There’s no definite answer for how long or how short each of these components should be since the timeline for each will be defined based on the concept and goals of the video.

Accordingly, the total length will be identified for each project individually. You can also check out our article about length practices for different types of animation videos where we discuss other factors that influence the duration of business videos.

4️⃣ Define Key Video Scenes

The main goal of key scenes is to highlight main actions, story turns, and provide a framework for all other actions that may take place in the video. In order to create a high-quality storyboard, we recommend outlining the key scenes first, and adding the secondary scenes that will take place in between, afterwards.

If you’re interested in getting to know the other nuances that come with the creation of a business video, download our full guide to the animation production process here:

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

5️⃣ Decide on a Level of Detail

Obviously, a more detailed storyboard will take more time to create; however, we still recommend adding some details to it in order to give some volume to your concept.

Don’t worry though, even detailed storyboards do not require you to detail each and every shot, meaning different scenes on the same storyboard may have different levels of detail.

Here’s an example of two frames on the same storyboard from one of our projects. Compare the level of detail on the first versus the second one. 

👉 1:

👉 2:

The level of detail also largely depends on the requirements set before each particular scene (action intensity, object density, etc.) If, for example, you need to create a storyboard in color with a significant number of details being displayed per scene, we recommend you break the whole process into two stages:

  • In the first stage, you briefly sketch out all the scenes to get a general understanding of the footage structure.
  • In the second stage, you add the remaining details to get a complete sketch.

 

6️⃣ Sketch Out All Scenes

As you move forward with this, it’s necessary to make sure that each scene comes with its own textual explanation and has the voiceover written out. Pay attention to all the details as, oftentimes, there may be a high probability of dropping some character emotions or ‘speech-bubbles’ out of sight.

This, in turn, will lead to voiceover/scene mismatches and story inconsistency. So keep all the key messages and elements in mind and highlight them as you proceed with the sketches.

Also, when drawing the first version of your storyboard, don’t aim for excellence. The storyboard has to be sketched out quickly but in a clean and clear way. Editing, adding details, finalizing colors, etc. — like we said, these all can (and should) be done during the second stage.

7️⃣ Double Check Everything

The final step before sending the storyboard to production is to make sure that everything is as it should be — all the recommendations above are taken into account, each frame comes with a description and corresponding voiceover part, all transitions between shots are outlined, etc. 

There might be cases where the production teams also create Animatic — before or after storyboard completion. This is normally done for dynamic videos with a high level of action, and a complex story or script. 

Animatic comes either as a sketch sequence accompanied by a rough voiceover, or as a mix of sketches and live footage. Its purpose is to help authors get an idea of how the concept will perform — before actually proceeding to design the animation itself.

For one of our videos — Booty Spray — we developed an Animatic to assess whether the conveyed story is clear, the scenes are dynamically sufficient, all transitions are logical and shot angles are visually accurate:

If you’re wondering what else needs to be included in the animation video production process, feel free to download our complete guide below:

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

 

How to Create a Video Production Storyboard That Perfectly Describes Your Concept

The quality of the storyboard heavily depends on prior experience — knowing what should be included, and what can be put aside while sketching out the frame sequence, plays a key role in creating a truly original piece that perfectly describes your concept.

If you’ve never worked with storyboards before, here are a few pro tips that will help to ensure you stay on track:

  • Every key scene of your video must be described in 2-3 shots.
  • Every shot has to include background, characters and information regarding all interactions that take place between character(s) and other objects or elements.
  • All characters’ actions and camera motions have to be outlined and highlighted with corresponding arrows.
  • The storyboard has to outline all the transitions between scenes. If necessary, a separate frame can be allocated for those.
  • All scenes have to be clean and sketched out neatly.
  • Each scene has to be accompanied by a detailed visual description, with corresponding text and timing (for each individual scene).
  • The storyboard has to have a name. All of its scenes, frames and pages have to be numbered.

The goal of the storyboarding process is to help you confirm that your future video will be able to clearly convey the concept idea and core messages outlined in a script 💡

 

Final Thoughts

That’s pretty much the basics — and all you need to know about storyboarding for a video. As you have seen from this blog, the process of creating a storyboard is quite straightforward itself; however, it should be done in a particular order. 

At Blue Carrot, we involve specialized artists in order to create a video storyboard. Every video project is always accompanied by a storyboard, except in very rare cases where our team does not create a project from scratch or is hired for simple e-learning videos. 

Those videos that come with complex stories and are action-intensive, in most cases, will have an Animatic developed for them, as well.

Based on our experience, if the process is carried out properly, there’s nothing to worry about in terms of challenges. If a production team has a script well written out, they can easily create a storyboard that will perfectly follow the story and meet the client’s expectations. 

In such cases — on the client’s side — edits are normally limited to minor cosmetic-like adjustments like ‘let’s add an office building in this shot,’ or ‘let’s move our product to the side of a table here,’ etc.

If you feel, however, that you need more information on how to make a storyboard for a video, or have any questions unanswered, simply contact our team and we’ll be happy to help!

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Consider Our Company Your Trusted Partner

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An animation video produced by our team for KEEL — an IT engineering consultancy company from Denmark. The goal for this explainer video was to educate viewers on the history of development of the Wind Power Industry, showcase the company’s expertise, and Big Data services it provides to the Energy Market.  

🔹 PleaseSave

A short 20-second promotional ad that we created for PleaseSave — a solution that allows users to compare different credit cards and pick one that suits them best. The idea for this project was to move from standard screencast-like videos and create a unique story that we will be able to convey with great footage in less than a half a minute. A detailed storyboard developed for this project helped us to achieve the goal set.

👉 Animatic and storyboard:

🔹 Blundermail

Marketing video developed by Blue Carrot for Blundermail — Outlook plugin that eases the email creation process on the platform and makes it more understandable for regular users. What is unique about this video is that it perfectly combines a few different styles of animation and screencasts.

The video begins with the introduction of the messaging system in Ancient Rome and gradually unfolds to the e-mail messaging issues that we experience today. The whole story is narrated in a fun and creative way. 

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If you’d like a FREE consultation on how to create a simple storyboard for video, or are simply looking for a team to get your video project off the ground, send us a message by filling out the form below, and one of our managers will get in touch with you right away 👇

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