Are Storyboards Really Necessary? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 18th, 2007, 02:06 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West Africa
Posts: 255
Are Storyboards Really Necessary?

DO we really need story-boards or are they a luxury for movie directors who have too much time on their hands?

I thought the script was supposed to contain all the information about what's going to be on the screen?

Making a storyboard is like writing the movie all over again. Isn't that confusing?
Seun Osewa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 02:18 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Marin & Davis, CA, USA
Posts: 418
Hitchcock planned every shot in his film with storyboards and that was the final plan. He then just had to shoot it, and the edit went incredibly fast.

Other directors don't necessarily use (or at least use as heavily) storyboards.

I like just figuring it out as I go in many cases, by filming a number of angles and having a long but creative editing process. In a way, it seems like having it planned so much would be very limiting.

However, it's a very important thing to plan, and plan well.

If you don't have storyboards, have a very detailed shot list, so you don't miss anything.

And it won't hurt to have some storyboards, even just stick figures from approximate angles that you might use, because it will make it very clear what you want and then you can easily glance at the sheet rather than looking at a list of shots that might take a bit more time to comprehend.

No matter what you do-- PLAN!
But if you don't do precise storyboards, that's not something that will in itself kill your production.

Storyboards are also extremely helpful in shots that need to be planned well-- visual effects sequences, animated scenes (stop motion or 2D), or action sequences, and anything that will be expensive and only shot from a single angle.
In that sense, it's good to have a very detailed storyboard for anything that isn't clear in the script. Dialog can stand on its own for the most part, but "and the two guys fight a lot and so-and-so wins" needs a visual to accompany it.

As with visual effects, the storyboards can be more help to others than just your likely vague description of even a clear image in your mind as director.
The DP/lighting designers, set designers, effects artists, stunt coordinators, choreographers, etc. will be helped, and it can be a very good tool for a simple explanation of a shot to anyone on set, like the actors. "You'll be here [pointing]" is a lot clearer than describing some position with a long sentence of movement.
Daniel Ross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 02:18 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West Africa
Posts: 255
Saying it in another way:

I thought i was supposed to write everything I want in my movie into the script. now I'm discovering that after writing the script I'm supposed to create a comic based on the script. The storyboard.

As a low-budget first timer, this process ridiculously redundant to me. Why waste time writing a detailed script if at the end of the day what I'm shooting will be based on an amateur comic-book?

Why not write the comic-book (sorry, storyboard) straightaway and save time and money, or just shoot mechanically from the script?

[hr]OOPS: I didn't realize that someone had already replied. Will respond properly now.

Last edited by Seun Osewa; September 18th, 2007 at 02:22 PM. Reason: Oops
Seun Osewa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 02:24 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West Africa
Posts: 255
As a writer/director, what if I just write the story with storyboards and skip the intermediate step of writing a complete script? What if I start with the outline of the story and then create a storyboard directly based on that?
Seun Osewa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 02:27 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Marin & Davis, CA, USA
Posts: 418
Very different things.

A script focuses mostly on dialog.

Writing your first script may be a revelation-- you realize that unlike prose, you have very little description. A script should have minimal description/sentences, and mostly dialog.
A script is a fairly standard format and will give you approximately 1 page per minute of film time. Much of this is the dialog.

A storyboard covers, as I said above, what can't be placed right into the script.

It's a waste of time to describe the camera angle in a script AND a very bad idea if you aren't the director.

As a screenwriter, you tell a story through important details of places and people, then mostly through their words and general action. The director then takes this and makes a real version, with blocking and filling in the rest of the details-- especially how it's shown. A director will strongly dislike a script if you try to tell him how to do his job.

But if you are writing a script for yourself, this doesn't apply, and you have more freedom.

Along these lines, the screenwriter is rarely the storyboard artist (well, designer) in major productions. That's the director. A storyboard is the visualization of the script.

Going with the idea of a comic book, consider that for a minute. Then look at one-- there are writing credits and sketching credits and color credits. The second two are the people who make the visuals and visual style, and the first is the person who made the story, like you writing a script for a movie.


[EDIT: WE APPEAR TO BE CROSS-POSTING-- REPLY to your third post--]
Well, that's not standard and would be a very bad idea if you weren't both writer and director. But in that case, it could work.
I'd only suggest it in a heavily artistic or visual film.
If the film is mostly action, sure. If it's mostly dialog, go with a script.
Daniel Ross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 03:02 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: switzerland
Posts: 2,131
you can easily create a storyboard from still taken from camera.
Just replace the actors by any other friend.
this way you got the angle, some preview of what is possible on location, can help for lighting, placement of people etc...
then you print all these pictures on paper, redraw just what needed on a transparent paper, and then you got your story board.
when you show that to people for light, sound and actors, everybody will understand scene by scene what they need to do, because they understand what the camera will see.
and you will not spend time to describe in a script something that could prove to be impossible to do for a reason or another.
Giroud Francois is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 03:18 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ephrata, PA United States
Posts: 257
A storyboard is essential to keep a shoot moving, to aid in the director's communication with his DP, and to largely prevent continuity errors.

A script is essential to tell the actors what to say and do and to communicate the plot, story, and point of the movie.

In feature or movie short production, both are indispensable unless you are willing to sacrifice major time to reshoots.
__________________
Mountjoy! Studios - Promotional Videography & Graphic Design
MountjoyStudios.net
Dale Stoltzfus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 03:43 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West Africa
Posts: 255
For a low-budget production, can't one infer what shots could look like from the script directly? Especially if the script is deliberately written with a new paragraph for each shot? I can't really see why it might be needed.

Or is there maybe a specific example of a script that needs a storyboard? Maybe it's more important for action scripts, stunts, and visual effects?
Seun Osewa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 03:59 PM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: switzerland
Posts: 2,131
http://images.google.com/images?hl=e...oryboard&gbv=2
if you got low budget, you better had to plan everything carefully to keep time and money at bare minimum. storyboard will help.
it is not the storyboard that is important, it is all the work you have done to get it.(translate your script in picture).
storyboard is picture, movie is picture.
script is text, if you prefer text, write a book....? :)
Giroud Francois is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 04:09 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ephrata, PA United States
Posts: 257
Giroud is right - low budget shoots need storyboards even more than big budget shoots because they don't have time and money to waste. As for your question about formatting your script, a correctly formatted script for motion picture production does not have paragraphs per se. It is a whole different way of writing than the common paragraphic method and it is really not possible to use it as a substitute for storyboards.
__________________
Mountjoy! Studios - Promotional Videography & Graphic Design
MountjoyStudios.net
Dale Stoltzfus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2007, 04:38 PM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
Seun,

A storyboard is a visual representation of the frame of the shot, the blocking of the actors, and a possible indication of camera movement/angle... all in a single 'picture'.

IF you are director, DP, Editor and CraftServices (like most small beer-budget shoots) you might feel you don't need to create the shot. You can see it clearly in your head. BUT if you need to show the shot to your crew, this picture is worth a thousand words.

Some directors will storyboard the whole film. This helps them to pre-plan the shots and angles and blocking. Some will only storyboard a sequence, in order for the stunts or FX people to get a handle on what the director has in mind - "OH! We never see the other side of the alien??? Then we can put a zipper in the suit!" "Oh, the camera is shooting UP at the Monster? We can put him on an apple crate!" "OH! The horses run RIGHT OVER THE CAMERA!! We'll need to dig a pit..." It's just another tool to help convery your images in a way that the people on the set... and yes, producers with limited ability to imagine shots, can easily grasp.

Don't knock 'shooting comics'... the very first narrative films WERE comic strips first.

No, I don't always use storyboards... I'm a scene by scene kind of guy.

There is a difference between a shooting script, a spec script and a storyboard, they all have their place in the creative process.

You don't HAVE to use one. Don't lose any sleep over it. But if you find yourself trying to explain what the shot is to someone, and you reach for a pencil and pad to 'draw a diagram'... you're creating a storyboard.

NOTE: With modern software the art of storyboarding has morphed into 'pre-vis' or 'pre-visualization' animations, especially with complex stunts and effects. Simple animated storyboards are created to show the FX people, and sometimes the actors, what an 'imaginary' sequence will look like, a year from the moment after it comes out of post.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2007, 04:49 AM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seun Osewa View Post
Saying it in another way:

I thought i was supposed to write everything I want in my movie into the script. now I'm discovering that after writing the script I'm supposed to create a comic based on the script. The storyboard.

As a low-budget first timer, this process ridiculously redundant to me. Why waste time writing a detailed script if at the end of the day what I'm shooting will be based on an amateur comic-book?

Why not write the comic-book (sorry, storyboard) straightaway and save time and money, or just shoot mechanically from the script?

[hr]OOPS: I didn't realize that someone had already replied. Will respond properly now.
Script suggests the visuals and plans the dialog. Storyboards plan the visuals in detail.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2007, 04:50 AM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seun Osewa View Post
As a writer/director, what if I just write the story with storyboards and skip the intermediate step of writing a complete script? What if I start with the outline of the story and then create a storyboard directly based on that?
That's been done and done well. Christopher Guest gives his cast a story outline and let's them improvise the scene.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2007, 05:40 AM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 238
Hi:

I think it all relies on the traditional separation of responsibilities. If there is no such separation it may make sense to merge the steps, but it may also distract your attention in the creative process by adding focus on elements that doesn't carry the story.

I found Elliot Grove's "Raindance writers' lab - write + sell the hot screenplay" very good. Although I haven't gone to write a script (yet).

As many other sources, Grove recommends /not/ to write a detailed script - you're not writing a novel - as it will alienate the director and actors from the creative process by limiting their own interpretation. The rule of thumb is that one page in the script should correspond to one minute in the final edit. You won't get much action if you spend time describing the scene. In fact as I understand it, the script will usually only refer to indoor/outdoor and day/night. Elements are only introduced to the extent that these form integral part in the action, like "our hero walks around the table", OK so there's a table in this scene.

The storyboard as such I think is really just an effective way of communicating the visual interpretation you're out for. It's useful if you have a long/complex story and/or you have a lot of people involved: Location scouts, AD, DP etc. The storyboarding, if used, is the first visual interpretation of the script usually done by the Director with the assistance of the the AD and DP.

If you're just yourself writing a script for a short you're going to shoot then there is no need to add a lot of details nor do the storyboards for visualization - you can probably remember the main ideas.

But, don't take my words as from a professional because I am not.
Erik Norgaard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2007, 08:11 AM   #15
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
I've seen many a young/new director get hung up on the storyboard notion, getting an artist to create reams of detailed graphic frames and then showing them around "look at my beautiful storyboards!" thinking in some way that they have shot the film already. Often when I have been brought in to DP a project, I see this and shudder. A large part of my participation is to work with the director on the shot list and design the visuals with (and often for) him/her; the storyboard nominally means that this has already been done but more often than not, what we end up shooting is very different from the boards.

Specialized shots that (as been mentioned here) need the participation and understanding of various members of the production crew are indeed best boarded in detail; action scenes with many little shots that might be covered by multiple crews and/or over multiple days are another example. A storyboard that shows a 2 shot, over-the-shoulder shots and closeups are nearly useless as far as I'm concerned as there is very little to communicate there that can't be done with a simple shot list.

One one project, a storyboard artist came in during the prep and had taken it upon himself to design a particular fight sequence himself with few notes from the director, not only coming up with all of the angles but adding pieces of action etc. In other words, directing the scene himself via his drawings. Thankfully the director was as turned off as I and the artist was fired after that meeting.

For me, a shot list will tell 90% of the story 90% of the time, unless a director has a very crystallized vision of the shots (and I'm usually satisfied with stick figure versions as also mentioned above). I'm also used to commercials being fully boarded as that is a convention well suited to a process that goes through many hands (art director, agency etc).

My bottom line is this: a director who has a really strong grasp of visuals who is able to come up with a great shot list themselves may well be able to hand me a shotlist that is more or less what we will end up shooting. If it's something that we will end up revamping substantially, I'd rather they had spent the time working on something else (like the script...!)
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:51 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network