What is a Video Storyboard and How to Create One | Sparkhouse

Updated 4-1-21

When working on a video marketing campaigns, you may hear the term “storyboard” thrown around a lot. At the most basic level, a storyboard is a visual representation of the planned shots that will be included in a video. Think of it as a graphic roadmap detailing every scene in your story. Photos, sketches, illustrations and even still photos of stock video footage may be used to compile a storyboard, and most of them include text that spells out what’s happening in each scene. Generally, the storyboard is assembled after the production team has created a shot list.  

It doesn’t matter whether you are making a commercial, an instructional video, or a feature-length movie — video storyboarding is an essential part of planning out the flow of your project and ensuring that it looks as polished and professional as possible when completed. However, while the term “video storyboard” may sound intimidating, with the right approach and creative tools, it can be a fun and efficient way to pre-visualize the ideas that will inevitably become your video project.

Video Storyboard

Although storyboarding may be a familiar concept for filmmakers, for many businesses, creating a storyboard for a video project may be completely new. Below is a brief overview of what video storyboarding entails and how it can help you plan out your project in detail.

video storyboard

What is a Video Storyboard?

Storyboarding is a visual way of organizing ideas and planning a project from start to finish. It involves creating sketches or digital illustrations representing each step in the process. This could be anything from the flow of a website or app to the structure of an article or video marketing campaign. The goal is to create a clear path for taking one idea from concept to completion in the most efficient manner possible.

What is the purpose of a Storyboard?

Having a storyboard before starting any project helps you visualize its success before investing too much time and money into it. It also eliminates any potential miscommunications between team members by giving everyone involved an easily accessible roadmap of where they should be going with their work. A storyboard serves as both an outline and reference point throughout the entire process, helping to ensure that everyone stays on track and that ideas remain consistent across all team members. 

Benefits of a Video Storyboard

Storyboarding has numerous benefits – from saving time and money by avoiding costly mistakes to providing clarity on objectives early on in the process. Here are some specific ways that storyboards can help your business when approaching your need video marketing campaign:

1. Quickly Identify Weak Points in Your Project

By storyboarding your video, you can quickly identify potential weak points in your plan and make any necessary corrections before you start filming. 

Having every step clearly outlined in a visual representation helps to quickly spot any parts that might be confusing or not align with the team’s vision. It’s best to address these discrepancies before they happen during actual production, as this will help save time and energy. 

Furthermore, storyboarding allows the team working on the project to have a shared understanding of what aspects need attention to work collaboratively toward achieving the same goal.

2. Develop Better Communication Between Team Members

By creating visual outlines and flowcharts of tasks, ideas, and processes, everyone can see the big picture of what needs to be done, who is responsible for what, and how all pieces fit together. 

Not only does video storyboarding prevent confusion or disagreements about details, but it also helps to break down complex projects into manageable chunks. It allows team members to collaborate more effectively, get organized quickly, identify potential problems early in the process, and keep the project on track. 

Ultimately, storyboarding encourages creative problem-solving by allowing teams to test different approaches and identify solutions that may not have immediately been apparent otherwise, which makes it a valuable tool in any video production project.

3. Establish Realistic Expectations 

Storyboarding allows for differences between the stakeholders, their responsibilities, and the goals for the project to be more clearly mapped out. This helps prevent any miscommunications due to misunderstanding one another’s expectations. It also ensures that all parties understand when specific tasks must be completed for the venture to move forward as planned.

Using a storyboard also allows for quick updates when needed, ensuring everyone involved can quickly reference it to adjust what needs to change or refocus resources in different areas if necessary. Having this type of document available throughout a project makes it much easier for all involved to stay on track and meet expectations.

4. Streamline Processes

By having a comprehensive visualization of each step upfront, teams can quickly identify what tasks are necessary at which points in the workflow and how they will be completed. This helps save time in the long run, as it reduces the chances of errors occurring due to miscommunication and simplifies the task delegation process.

Also, with a storyboard, it’s easier to develop a timeline and plan out when specific tasks need to be completed for the project to meet its deadlines. This helps prevent any issues from occurring due to insufficient time allotted for a particular task or segment of the video.

Assembling the shot list

Just like it sounds, the shot list is a list of every varying shot-shorthand for a specific video footage clip-that needs to be captured on shoot day. A single scene may require multiple shots in order to show various angles of the characters or items. Each shot on the list has a brief description of the type of shot, location, character action, and any dialogue or voice over that will be spoken during the shot. 

Here’s an example of a video shot list Sparkhouse created for client Seed Legend:

storyboard video seed legend shot list

The Purpose of Video Storyboards

The goal of a storyboard is to graphically display the shot list vision and get everyone on the same page as far as what the director is imagining for each shot and scene. Not only is it a great way to make sure all of the production people are pointed in the right direction, but the storyboard is also a crucial deliverable the client will need to sign off on before shooting begins. If anything needs to be tweaked within the storyboard, the clients and creative team can work together to refine it at this stage, instead of wasting valuable time and budget on reshoots later. 

Types of Video Storyboards: Samples and Templates

Creative teams use different variations of storyboards that really accomplish the same thing, just at different levels of complexity. The type of video production you are making will ultimately help determine which storyboard format is used to clearly map out the story’s flow.  While storyboards are a great way to improve the quality and efficiency of your video projects, not all of them are created the same. Below are a few examples of the types of storyboards you can use in your video marketing campaigns:

1. Photo Storyboard

A photo storyboard is exactly what it sounds like – a storyboard with photographs instead of illustrations. It’s often used in movies and TV shows to plan each scene before it is shot. A photo storyboard can also be helpful when creating commercials or other marketing material. It allows you to visualize how each shot will look before you start shooting and ensure that all the elements work together to create a cohesive product.

Here’s an example of a photo storyboard we used to film a video:

Photo STORYBOARD video

Here is the video of the final results of the photo storyboard.

2. Rough sketched storyboards

Rough sketched storyboards are usually the first step in creating the final product. They don’t have to be perfect. They just need to convey enough information about what each scene should look like so that everyone involved can understand what needs to be done and how it should be done. This type of storyboard is often used by animators and cartoonists when planning out their projects, but it can also be helpful for businesses who want to get a rough idea of how their final product should look before committing too much time or money to it.

You only need to show as much as it takes to explain the shot. So when it comes to storyboards, if you can get your point across without a full-color illustration, then a quick sketch may be all that is needed to get everyone on your team working together.

Here is an example of a rough sketched storyboard:

Here is the final result of the sketched storyboard:

3. Full-color storyboards

Full-color storyboards are the most detailed type of storyboarding available. The illustrations are usually quite comprehensive and include background scenery, props, characters, and other important visual details so that everyone knows exactly what each scene should look like when it comes time to shoot or animate the final product. Full-color storyboards are often used in movie productions and video game design because they provide the most clarity for everyone involved in creating the project.

Here are some color storyboards for an animation (yes, you need them for animated videos, as well):

full-color storyboard video design

Here is the final result of the a video we produced using a full-color storyboard:

What to include in a storyboard process

In addition to the collection of visuals that accurately reflect your video’s grand vision, there are additional elements you should work in to make your storyboards as useful as possible.

When approaching a storyboard, there are various steps and processes to consider. Here is a checklist of some key elements that should exist in a video storyboard:

1. Script

The first step in creating a storyboard is scripting your video. This involves writing out all of the dialogue and narration featured in the video. You should also include any on-screen text or graphic elements that you want to be included in the final product. Taking the time to script your video ahead of time ensures that everyone understands what they are supposed to say and do on set during filming.

2. Shot Number and Direction

Once you have scripted out your video, it’s time to think about how each shot should be filmed. Using numbers and arrows on your storyboard template is the best way to keep track of this information. Each line or section should represent one shot from the video and include an arrow indicating the action’s direction (for example, left to right). This helps keep everything organized and ensures no important shots are missed during filming.

Since you are creating your storyboard off of your shot list, be sure to include the shot number so that anyone working on the production can easily tell what exactly a particular shot is referencing.

3. Key Characters and Prop Requirements

In addition to shot number and direction, it’s essential to include any key characters who appear in each shot and any props or special equipment required for filming. For example, if there is a closeup shot of someone speaking directly into the camera, then make sure they have all their props ready, such as papers or presentation slides. This way, the actors can easily transition between shots without pausing while searching for things mid-filming.

4. Notes and Descriptions

Once all the information has been included in your storyboard, it’s time to add some notes and descriptions about each scene or shot detailing any specific actions that need to occur during filming. This ensures that everyone has a clear understanding of what needs to happen and helps to convey any special instructions that need to be followed during the shoot that isn’t visible on the page.

Five Steps on How to Create a Successful Video Storyboard

Creating a storyboard is a pivotal step in video production, serving as a visual guide that ensures your project’s narrative flow and logistical coherence. To craft a storyboard that not only captivates but also streamlines your production process, follow these enhanced steps:

1. Initiate with a Brainstorming Sessions:

    • Dive into brainstorming with a focus on the narrative’s backbone — the characters, crucial plot developments, and settings. This stage isn’t just about listing ideas but immersing yourself in the creative process. Sketch your thoughts, jot down snippets of dialogue, and play with scene layouts. Consider using mood boards or inspiration collages to visualize the tone and aesthetic of your video.

storyboard rough draft

2. Create a Rough Draft for Your Storyboard:

      • Transition your brainstormed concepts into a structured rough draft. This isn’t about perfection but placement. Outline your scenes, sketch rudimentary character positions, and mark camera angles. Think of this as creating the skeleton of your video’s story. Each panel should succinctly convey the essence of a scene — its emotional tone, key actions, and transitional cues.

storyboard building on your rough draft

3. Build on Your Rough Draft:

    • With the rough draft as your foundation, start fleshing out the details. This is where your storyboard evolves from a sketch to a story. Enhance your panels with more defined drawings, insert dialogue and specific sound cues, and annotate camera movements. Consider how lighting, color, and perspective can influence the mood and perception of each scene.

review your storyboard

4. Review Your Storyboard:

    • Reviewing your storyboard is crucial. Approach it with a critical eye and a willingness to adapt. This is the time to ensure narrative clarity, visual coherence, and logistical feasibility. Engage peers for feedback — fresh perspectives can spotlight overlooked details or suggest creative improvements. Iterate until every scene transitions smoothly, and the storyboard holistically captures your vision.

5. Finalize with Foresight:

    • The final step is to solidify your storyboard as a production blueprint. Ensure it’s detailed enough for your team to visualize the final product yet flexible enough to adapt to on-set realities. Confirm that it includes all technical specifications, such as shot types, angles, and movements, which will guide your filming process.

Following these five steps, your storyboard will not only guide your video project with precision but also inspire your creative team with a clear vision. Remember, a well-crafted storyboard is the first step in bringing your narrative to life, paving the way for a seamless production phase and a compelling final video.

Seven Extra Tips to Building a Video Storyboard

To further enrich your guide on creating a successful video storyboard, you might consider adding these additional elements:

1. Incorporate Technology:

  • Highlight the use of digital tools and software that can streamline the storyboard creation process. Mention apps and programs that allow users to create more precise and dynamic storyboards, such as Adobe Story, Storyboard That, or even simple graphic design tools like Canva. These technologies can facilitate collaboration, easy edits, and sharing among team members.

2. Stress on Collaboration:

  • Emphasize the importance of teamwork and feedback in the storyboard process. Encourage creators to share their drafts with directors, cinematographers, and other key team members early on. Collaboration can spark new ideas, identify potential issues before they arise during production, and ensure that the storyboard aligns with the vision of the entire production team.

3. Discuss the Role of Storyboards in Post-Production:

  • Expand on how storyboards continue to be useful even after filming has started. They can guide editors through the intended narrative flow, pacing, and transition between scenes, ensuring the final product remains true to the original vision.

4. Include Real-world Examples:

  • Offer case studies or examples of successful storyboards from well-known films or video projects. This could provide readers with a concrete understanding of how theoretical principles are applied in practice, and inspire them by showing the diversity and potential impact of well-executed storyboards.

5. Tips for Non-artists:

  • Acknowledge that not everyone has advanced drawing skills and provide advice for those who are more conceptually inclined. Suggest alternative methods such as using stock images, photographs, or simple stick figures to convey the story. The key is the clarity of the vision, not the artistic skill of the sketches.

6. Highlight Storyboard Variations:

  • Explain that storyboards can vary in detail and complexity based on the project’s needs. For example, a complex action sequence might require a very detailed storyboard compared to a simple dialogue scene. Encouraging flexibility in the approach can help creators adapt the process to their specific project needs.

7. Encourage Experimentation with Storytelling Techniques:

  • Urge creators to use storyboards as a tool to experiment with different storytelling techniques or narrative structures. This can be an excellent way to test out non-linear narratives, flashbacks, or unique visual styles before committing to them during production.

In conclusion, the art of video storyboarding stands as a cornerstone in the realm of video marketing, bridging the gap between initial concepts and their cinematic realization. By meticulously planning each scene, storyboards offer a visual roadmap that guides the entire production team, ensuring a cohesive and impactful narrative. This article has navigated through the essentials of storyboard creation, from the initial brainstorming to the final touches, underscoring the importance of this process in avoiding costly mistakes and enhancing team communication.

Whether it’s a commercial, instructional video, or a feature-length film, a well-crafted storyboard lays the foundation for a successful project, aligning vision with execution. As we’ve explored various types of storyboards and their benefits, it’s clear that embracing this creative process can significantly elevate the quality and effectiveness of any video marketing campaign. In harnessing the power of storyboarding, creators and businesses alike can transform their visions into compelling visual stories that captivate and resonate with their audience.

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No matter what type of video you need, Sparkhouse is here to help. With our experienced professionals and state-of-the-art equipment, we can create the perfect video for your project or presentation. Storyboarding is baked into our DNA as a video production company, and we’re experts at helping to turn fresh ideas into finished videos. Contact us today to learn more about our video services and how we can help bring your vision to life.

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