30th September 2015

Do Video Storyboards Really Matter?

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Making a good company video starts with careful planning. Whether it’s a promotional video, explainer video, or demo video, any type of video benefits from thorough pre-production. One of the most important stages in your video’s pre-production is your video storyboard.

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Storyboarding is a working document that breaks down the script into individual frames and links visual representations to each part of the script. It eases the production process and betters the result of your video, tenfold. You could say your storyboard is your video’s blueprint due to the visual map it provides for shots per scene, location layout, props, actors’ movements, etc. The end goal of storyboarding is to create the most accurate visual breakdown of the video, before the start of video production. This visual blueprint should leave little to the imagination so that the desired look for the finished product is clear to any team member.

Mainly, a video storyboard helps you emphasis these elements:

  • Establish scenes. Each frame provided in a storyboard represents a shot in succession. The frames give the team an idea of the composition of the shot and shows the placement of items and actors.
  • Determine action and dialogue. Above or below the boxes for illustrations are smaller boxes in which a piece of dialogue or an action can be stated.
  • Graphics and voiceovers. Illustrate when captions or special graphics enter into the clip.

Apart from pre-production documents, your storyboard can be a source for lifting production documents as well. Documents such as editing notes, a shot list, a prop list, etc., can all be lifted from the details that you’ve included in your storyboard.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 5.43.50 PM

On top of all the other previously stated advantages, storyboarding helps your team work together more cohesively. After reading the script, it is common that every team member will build a different visual landscape in his or her head. Oral explanations and notes can be helpful for relaying your ideas to one another but, ultimately, visual explanations will best get your ideas across, making sure that you and your team are on the same page about the desired aesthetic and purpose of the video. Create group brainstorming activities to help the collective creativity flow. Google Ventures Design Studio likes to begin the team storyboarding process with a design sprint, where each team member cranks out as many sketches as they can in a one to two hour period. They refer to this first step as “diverge” because by the end of the design sprint they have an enormous range of ideas. Exercises like these build team morale, participation, and engagement while simultaneously pooling all the strongest sketches together. By the end of the process, you are left with a stronger team work ethic and great video ideas.

But what does storyboarding actually do to the finished product? We know that it is incredibly useful in the pre-production and production phases, but if we were to compare a video that was crafted in pre-production by only using the script and oral communication to a video that was storyboarded thoroughly, what would ultimately be some of the differences that we would see in the finished product? Firstly, a clip that lacked an original storyboard would most likely be evident for its redundancy in information. The video’s timing would probably be slower and we’d be shown unnecessary shots that don’t add any new information. This is because a storyboarded clip has had each of its shots cherry-picked and carefully assessed for its usefulness in moving along the video’s storyline. By drawing out each frame, you’re able to see the skeleton of the video clearly and note the purpose of each shot, and each scene.

A good overall rule of thumb in video production is to provide just enough information to engage your audience on the topic and leave just enough out to not bore or confuse them.  Storyboarding ensures that your video performs well on both accounts.

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About the Author

Anish hails from London and holds a degree in software engineering from the University of Manchester. Following his education, he worked for several years in the financial industry as a platform administrator before founding Revolution Productions in 2008. In addition to over seven years of video production, Anish is seen as an industry professional, adding his insight in publications such as VentureBeat, ReelSEO and Wistia.

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