How to storyboard your video content

November 3, 2020 2ndUnit

How to storyboard your video content

The ultimate in visual storytelling is film. Storyboards were designed to plan and sequence films before production has even begun. They work just as well (if not better) than they did in the 1930s.

Storyboarding is effective for a variety of visual projects, not just feature films. Here are some projects that greatly benefit from the storyboarding process.

What is storyboarding?

A storyboard is a visual outline that sequences different shots and maps out a story from start to finish. Traditionally, storyboards are done by hand, but software and online programs exist for digital storyboarding as well.

Storyboarding checks to see that your script makes sense and allows you to correct errors before they become too expensive to fix.

By storyboarding you are also developing a shooting board, which allows you to better plan out your camera positions, setting, props, actors, effects and so on and be more industrious during production.

Commercial advertisement

Television shows

Instructional & promotional video

Interactive media & events


The benefits of storyboarding

1.) Storyboarding saves you time.

Creating any type of professional video has many logistics associated with it. Whether you’re producing a film, or directing an explainer video, a critical part of success is utilizing your resources wisely. Moving forward without a clear outline opens the door for miscommunication. Storyboarding forces us to think about the best routes to take before we even start the journey. This saves you time and money to lock down visuals and which shots to capture.

2.) Storyboarding saves you money.

This clarity offers such a high level of efficiency, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll finish the job with less revisions. In an industry where work can cost anything from $150 per hour to $1,000’s of dollars per hour; there’s much to gain by reducing the amount of changes needed in production.

3.) Storyboarding provides direction.

Storyboarding is a Visual Aid of ideas in picture form to get your team on the same page. This is not a mood board reference of the look, but rather an execution of the scenes. The director, DP, production designer & line producer are usually involved with the development of the storyboard. This helps develop a shot list for the production and ensures the best results for the team to do their best work.

How to create a storyboard

Storyboarding doesn’t need to be difficult, and you don’t need to be an artist to create your own. You can go the traditional paper and pencil route, or you can use online software for assistance.

We’ve prepared a downloadable storyboard to get you started.

Outline your story and ideas

What type of content are you creating and who are you trying to reach? It doesn’t matter if you’re working on an intense film project that requires a lot of tools and equipment or creating short marketing videos for Instagram or TikTok. You need to be prepared and have a plan for both.

Now that you have your storyboard you can work on

There are a few things to consider before you can begin getting down to work.

Outline your story and ideas

Prepare a script

Begin creating your storyboard

Build your shot list

Here are some questions to consider:

Who is your target audience?

What is the message you are trying to communicate?

How will your video present your message?

How will you transition between shots and make sure you capture the important parts?

Where are you placing talent and what will they be doing?

What type of shots do you need to capture?

What is happening in your background?

What platforms are you posting your video on and what aspect ratio do you intend to present your content with?

The same way you would create an outline for an article or presentation, you’ll need to create one for your production as well. This will take some time at first, but it will help you focus your work and reduce wasted resources.

Prepare script

A script should detail the audio, visuals, behaviors, and dialogue of your story. You need to tell a visual story, but in words. Make sure to break down your script with scenes assigned by numbers, which most software does for you. Then you can have a reference in your scheduling and shot lists.

Make slug lines to specify scene locations. This is very important and must be done uniformly so that your crew is on the same page with the location and detail. Shooting schedules will begin being developed based on locations.

Begin creating storyboard (sketch thumbnails)
You don’t have to be an artist to begin creating your storyboard. All you need to do is create small thumbnails that capture what you have envisioned inside your head.

Take a scene from the script, begin sketching out visually what you see in that scene. Break these down into shots, each shot will be in 1 box. Add a brief description of what is going on below.

Build your shot list

Now that you have a solid direction from which to work from, it’s time to build your shot list.

Think about if you want wide or close up shots, how will you pan across certain scenes? For marketing and business, how will you visually represent your customer’s experience using your products and services?

Pro tip:
Product shots take a long time to get perfect, plan enough time for these. We recommend a 1/2 a day minimum.

Once you’ve finalized your shot list you can begin scheduling and getting ready to shoot. Save yourself the headache of having to fix your shots because you didn’t plan properly for your videos. Storyboarding will save you both time and money wasted capturing poorly planned shots or doing reshoots. Only you can visually explain the ideas in your head, and there’s no better way to share them than through a carefully crafted storyboard.