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 the video storyboard process shouldn’t be overlooked if you want to create an effective business video. We will also provide you with a storyboard template to help you get the most out of your video storyboard process.
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 the video storyboard process shouldn’t be overlooked if you want to create an effective business video 🎬
- What Is a Video Storyboard: Purpose and Benefits
- How to Storyboard a Video: 7 Steps in Storyboarding Process
- Most Common Video Storyboard Techniques and How to Use Them
- How to create a video storyboard following basic rules of composition
- How to Write a Storyboard For a Video: Additional Tips and Ideas
- Final Thoughts
- Check Our Video Storyboard Examples and Consider Our Company Your Trusted Partner
- Download Storyboard Template for Free
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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👉 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 discuss how you make a video storyboard, and see what it takes to create a video production storyboard that will help your project hit the mark 👇
When it comes to answering the question of how to create a storyboard for a video, we normally break down the storyboarding stage into seven main components. Let’s take a look at what the 7 steps in storyboarding are.
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 🚀
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 storyboard ideas for animation — 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. For this purpose, you can also use the storyboard template put together by our team.
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 30-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.
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 how to prepare a storyboard for a commercial explainer video, 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 video length best practices where we discuss other factors that influence the duration of business videos.
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. So, in order to create a high-quality storyline when figuring out how to construct a 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 development of a business video, download our full guide to the animation production process here:
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.
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.
As you move forward with this, it’s necessary to make sure that each scene comes with its own textual explanation and has the voice over for explainer video 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.
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:
Aside from the question of how to write a storyboard for a video, if you wonder what else needs to be included in the animation video production process, feel free to download our complete guide below:
There are four main categories of storyboards that you can choose from when creating one for your project:
- Thumbnail storyboard — consists of basic unedited sketches that give a general idea of what’s going to happen in key scenes of a video. The aspect ratio doesn’t get taken into account at this point yet.
- Floating storyboard — here sketches come with a higher level of digitalization; however, the aspect ratio remains unidentified.
- Framed storyboard — sketches are drawn in a frame that corresponds to the required aspect ratio. The point of doing so is to understand what objects and elements we want to show in a shot and how we want to arrange them.
- Photo storyboard — here photos may act as a background replacement for particular shots or be used instead of sketches (when producers want to display particular objects or shoot a scene from a certain camera angle).
Storyboards can also be divided into several groups based on the level of engagement they provide. They all give viewers a sense of the context but do it in different ways:
- Passive storyboards — may consist of sketches, screenshots, collages, or UI screens. The main point of passive storyboards is to take a viewer through the story by showing them the ‘key’ points only.
- Active storyboards — a.k.a. Animatics, these storyboards come with the rough V/O to give viewers a ‘movie-like’ feeling and make them pay attention to some small details such as scene length, overall timing, etc.
- Interactive storyboards — this is the most realistic variant of a storyboard in terms of viewer engagement which may even come with the basic character animation.
As you see, there are many different techniques that a team can adopt when creating a storyboard. However, we want you to keep in mind that in practice there are no strict requirements or guidelines for that.
The production team chooses which technique to follow solely based on how well a particular approach helps them to bring their imagination to life, shape scene transitions, and create a clear narrative that will make sense to an audience 👍
Aside from the main approaches for storyboard creation, there are also a few composition rules that artists follow regardless of whether they sketch out a storyboard on paper or use a tablet/PC for this purpose. We also advise you to pay attention to how these composition rules all get implemented in practice when going through our storyboard template.
- Frame. The artist has to set specific boundaries for the scene. A frame helps to define which elements will make it into the final shot and to decide on their arrangement. By changing the position of certain elements within a shot, the artist can draw the viewer’s attention to a particular object or even set the tone for the entire scene.
- Rule of thirds. This guideline allows for the preservation of a sense of symmetry in a shot. It is recommended that objects be located on (or near) the points of interest — the points where horizontal and vertical lines cross.
- Focal point. Every shot sequence has to have its own focal point. It can be placed anywhere in a shot. However, we recommend deciding on its location beforehand. The main idea of a focal point is to keep the viewer’s focus tied to a particular object or area for the duration of an entire scene.
- Dimensionality. When putting together a shot, it’s necessary to take advantage of the fore-, middle-, and background of a scene. The better you manage to demonstrate the difference between these areas, the more voluminous a shot composition will become. For this to happen you can overlap different elements, play with the perspective, and so on.
- Shapes and lines. How objects are shaped influences the viewer’s mood and the overall perception of a story. For example, circles and round shapes communicate joy and friendliness, while sharp edges are all about formality and keeping everything in order. The same goes for lines: horizontal lines create a sense of peace, vertical promote stillness, and diagonal action.
Shot composition determines how objects are arranged within a shot 👓
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 and go through the storyboarding process in the best way possible:
- 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 💡
That’s pretty much the basics — and all you need to know about storyboarding for a video and what should be in a storyboard. 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, every video project is always accompanied by a business 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 great 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 simply look for a company that makes storyboards, team and we’ll be happy to help!
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🥕 Explainer video animation case study for Blundermail
At Blue Carrot we’ve been producing marketing videos since 2014. We’ve gained significant expertise delivering projects for different niches and industries since then. We also try to stay transparent about what we do, and are always ready to share examples of storyboards, as well as the results of our work. Here is a selection of some of our projects recently delivered to clients:
🔹 Animated Explainer Video Example: KEEL
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.
🔹 Promotional Video Example for Ad: 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:
🔹 Explainer Video Example: 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.
Now that you’ve got a general idea of why and how storyboards for animated videos get created, check out this storyboard template. We put it together to help businesses and other animation designers come up with professional and engaging videos that can go viral.
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