Ever wondered what the original ideas and skribbles to your favorite trailor or music video would look like? No? Well, sadly most of these precious drawings end up in the garbage once the movie is completed anyway and it is hard to hunt them down again(unless the directors were planning to publish a big “making of”-section anyway). We thought that these storyboards should get some more attention, so we asked around and gathered a few different examples and styles as to how to visualize the production process. Here are our storyboard designs in cooperation with 5 different directors/artists around the world. Enjoy!
Written by Chiemi
Wikipedia says: “Storyboards are a series of illustrations displayed in sequence for the purpose of previsualizing an animated or live-action film. A storyboard is essentially a large comic of the film or some section of the film produced beforehand to help the directors and cinematographers visualize the scenes and find potential problems before they occur.”
In addition to that, usually a storyboard includes the size of a subject/object, their movement, composition, camerawork and the length of each shot.
Let’s take a look at some storyboards which were used for actual projects.
Case 1: TV drama
Edwin Ushiro from Culver City, California provided us with storyboards for the American TV drama series “Angel”. Edwin is a cinematographer and also art director but he joined this project as a storyboard writer.
A storyboard is often drawn by the director but when it’s drawn by a storyboard artist, how do they actually communicate with each other?
Edwin explains: Most storyboarding jobs start initially with the director and me reading over the script and noting specific scenes he wants to focus on. At this phase we would go over camera, lighting, dialog, character(s), prop(s), location(s), and mood. Using all the information provided, I will begin to storyboard with the director present. So most times you will find yourself sitting next to the director. Some of them even like to draw stick figures with you. This part of our collaboration is very amusing to me because I get the same feeling as I did when I used to draw with my younger brother.
After the first shoot based on the storyboards above, Edwin made another one (below) to communicate the ideas of the director to his digital & creation FX team. These two storyboards are from the same scenes, so you can see how the first storyboard changed to the actual shots by comparing them.
Unfortunately, we can’t show you the final piece here but if you are interested in it, it’s available on DVD..!
- ANGEL official website
Edwin also has some other very impressive storyboards on his website! Worth a look!
Case 2: Film festival trailer
The trailer featuring a school girl breakdancer called Strong Machine No.2 for UK’s Raindance Film Festival was directed by Japanese film maker Kosai Sekine. Kosai says “I wanted to create something that all filmmakers used to feel at the beginning.” This trailer won the First prize (Non European Broadcast category) and the Special jury award at the Young Directors Award 2006 held at the Cannes Ad Festival. Respect!
So let’s start with the sketch of the characters.
This sketch shows the characters the director had in mind. Usually the casting hasn’t been finished at this point, but in this case the director already knew he wanted Strong Machine No.2 to be the dancer when he had a rough idea of the story. By the way, these were all drawn by the director himself… Cute!
This storyboard is slightly different from the previous one by Edwin Ushiro. Kosai’s storyborad includes the length of each shot and the length of the whole film and also dialogues in “speech bubbles” which tells you how much Manga culture has brainwashed Japanese people…
Anyway, what do you pay attention to most when you draw a storyboard, Kosai?
Kosai Sekine: For this trailer, I drew 2 storyboards. The first one was to tell the contents to the production team, and the second one was more like a shooting board to show the camera angles of dance scene. (click here HERE for his second storyboard). I tried to draw the first one simply because it’s always better to talk to the production team face to face instead of relaying on a sheet of paper only. It’s also good to leave some space for creativity for the production. However, what you have to be careful with here is that you might miss some things and make mistakes you could avoided beforehand if planned the details more thoroughly. You have to get the balance right. So when I have to include some CG in a film, I draw a storyboard with more details or draw a special detailed plan for the CG team.**”
Still image from the final piece
Still image from the final piece
This trailer consisted of 19 shots on the first storyboard but it increased during the production process. And you can also see how much the director changed it from the first storyboard to the final piece. So let’s watch it!
Case 3: Online game
The next storyboard is from award-winning digital marketing agency Kerb based in Brighton, England. They made a online game: Aladdin for Disney Japan.
When Kerb produces online games, they don’t usually draw storyboards and only write a scoping document including a flow chart to show how the story goes. But in this case, they decided to draw a proper story board to explain the contents to their client.
Scene from online game “Aladdin”
Scene from online game “Aladdin”
Unfortunately, the final piece of this game hasn’t be online yet! (coming very soon) So keep an eye on Kerb’s website for the announcement.
Case 4: TV commercial (1)
Amsterdam based creative collective Kesselskramer produces anything from films, exhibitions, web sites to books. They provided us with a storyboard of a TV commercial for Reaal Insurance.
The campaign uses probability and chance to describe the company’s role as ‘realists in insurance’. It continues with their previous campaigns which had lines such as ‘There is an 85% chance of your second house being bigger then your first’. On this latest series, the percentages are depicted visually. A big chance results in a big object, a small chance in something small.
A planner, copywriter and art director were involved in this project from Kesselskramer, and this storyboard was drawn by the art director, Christian Borstlap.
So is there anything they pay special attention to when drawing a storyboard?
Kesselskramer explains: Yes, it’s all about how to make the idea as clear as possible as storyboards are often used to convince clients about your ideas. However, a storyboard is not a shooting board. So a storyboard is more about the idea then how to shoot it. It’s better to give a director some kind of creative room, which will benefit the end result.
A scene from the final piece. a tiny man…
.. and a giant lady..
So here is the final piece.
- REAAL Insurance TV commercial (Directed by Henrik Hallgren)
Case 5: TV commercial (2)
Colorful liquids are poured over and over into various containers and the narration goes: “Wouldn’t it be nice if a good thing never ended?” It’s is about a system offered by Orange to their pay-as-you-go customers. It’s very simple idea but very beautifully made.
So, let’s take a look at the all boards from a sketch called Board 001.
Before this sketch, there is another one called Board 000, which shows the main composition of shooting. This Board 001 is to explain what kind of containers he wants exactly. If you have a closer look, you can see it says “A: Jam jar, B: Filter coffee machine jug, C: Champagne Glass….”. Johnny also drew Board 002 to explain what kind of environment he wants, and Board 003 to explain what colors of liquid he wants.
And finally, we get to the storyboard at Board 004.
On the notes above, it says “this storyboard is for reference only”. However, from these detailed explanation, you can tell that the director already could see the final image very clearly in his head.
In addition to these, there is another board called Visual References 007 to explain how liquid is poured and how it is splashed.
Johnny is certainly thorough in what he does! So many detailed explainations….
Finally, this is the completed piece.
- ORANGE TV commercial “Paint”
So – we introduced some storyboards (and sketches) from 5 different filmmakers/artists today. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks very much to everyone!