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Basic guide to making a storyboard template for a movie

A storyboard makes the script come to life.

Although similar to comics, it is not intended as a brand new artwork but a supplemental material for more efficient production workflow. As a storyboard artist translates the script in visual form, it chronologically tells what happens in the story in the form of still images which guide the production team in shooting every single frame to be used for the film. Because the storyboard becomes a visual representation of the elements that will appear in each shot, making one is essential in telling the film crew how the movie should look.

Storyboard Template

A storyboard has no standard look. Anyone can make his or her own storyboard template based on what would work best for the production. Primarily, each shot is labeled according to its shot number, then the rest of the elements seen on each page depend on the more specific needs of the project. Once the template page is finalized, this will be reproduced based on the required number of frames the film would need. Shots can number in the hundreds for a short film and thousands for a feature film.

Image and Text Elements

Although some storyboards only show the drawn images from one page to the next, most also have scene directions in the form of short texts. These guide the production in mounting each scene. Other storyboards even have dedicated spaces for both audio and video descriptions for each shot, or random notes about the costumes, props, or special effects to be used during the shoot.

Often times each storyboard page shows the drawn images on the leftmost column, then the scene directions and miscellaneous descriptions to the right of each drawing. Each page typically hosts anywhere from one to four frames, arranged from top to bottom on the page.

There are also some storyboards with drawings that look like small thumbnails that start on the leftmost side of the page, and the next image placed to the right. Once the rightmost part of the page is reached, the next image is placed on the leftmost part below the prior row consisting of the thumbnails.

When using this template, the scene directions and miscellaneous descriptions are shorter and are typically written right below each corresponding drawing. This format provides smaller images, but it usually saves space, as there are more frames included on each page.

Storyboard Pages

Drawing each frame should be carefully planned by the director and storyboard artist. Usually, a prior shot list that describes each frame to be drawn for the storyboard is done ahead of time. Careful discussions are based on creative, practical, and financial considerations. After this, each shot gets drawn accordingly. This would mean consuming hundreds or even thousands of storyboard pages for the movie project.

A storyboard is usually hand-drawn, then scanned as image files. There are also some productions preferring to go all digital by drawing the storyboard using a graphics tablet and stylus. This tablet has a flat surface compatible with a pen-like device to capture drawn data straight to the computer. Each drawn frame gets transferred to the storyboard template’s digital copy. Image and text elements are digitally added as well.

After storyboarding the entire film, soft or hard copies of the final storyboard are sent to the production team. Printed copies of the storyboard are used during the film shoot and also during the editing process.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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