The Needs of Storyboard

“As I began making my feature films, it was a great adventure. It was about constructing something I saw in my head or I had designed on storyboards and capturing that on film”

Sam Raimi, Director


 

Do you find the picture above familiar?

It is Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Storyboard, not a movie scene of course. The Australian film director, screen writer and producer, George Miller had no script. Rather, he and his collaborators created storyboards – thousands of drawings (3500 to be exact) that serve as a testament to the all – action movie.

Co-writing and designing the initial storyline and visuals for Mad Max: Fury Road was a great thrill. It’s extraordinary how much Miller already had in his mind 16 years before the movie came out, and how closely the film adhered to his early vision.

madmaxstoryboard
George Miller’s initial vision for the film from 1999

So, what is Storyboard?

Storyboard is an illustration that represents the shots which are made of a movie. They allow us to build the world of our film before we actually build it.

Storyboard started in the animation industry. In the early 1900s, the great animator Winsor McCay was creating comic strips for his amazing animations and these were certainly some of the earliest storyboards.

There is not any strict rule in how to do storyboard. Functional storyboard does not need to be drawn well, a quick sketching board does not need quality art to get the point across. Simply and understandable are all what it needs to be.

Who Storyboards?

Typically, the director sits down with the storyboard artist to help articulate their vision. However, it is common for cinematographer and production designer to join in the process as well.

Storyboard Breakdown

The Panel or Frame represents what the camera will see.

storyboard-panel

Panel comes in different shapes. It depends on our shooting aspect ratio: square or wide-screen. Deciding where to put the person in the frame is the basic of its composition. This may seem really basic, but it has a huge impact on how we prepare for our shoots. Its give the cinematographer his starting point, such as: camera angle, lightning, the field.

The Arrows in Storyboard 

We have a panel with a character on it. We say the camera moves to the left by drawing an arrow to the left. There is no rule in drawing arrows, everyone has their own personal style. But what important is that the arrows are easy to read and make sense.

storyboard-arrows

Clearly conveying information is the key, so provide some details in word in the storyboard if it needs. Since this can be a little bit confusing, making note is recommended to indicate whether the shot is tracking, dolling or zooming. The note can be made beside the panel, or inside the arrow itself.

Sometimes we need more than one drawing to illustrate what happens in a single shot, especially when it involves a really complicating action or camera movement.

What Storyboard brings you?

Time. Money. Communication.

Storyboard can actually be used to save time and money for an early idea test, it solves production problems. Executive producer for Sesame Workshop animation, Nina Elias Bamberger has said, “Storyboards are the blueprint for the series. They convey the emotions; they convey the creative direction of the series.”

And when a production is shooting in a country which speaks different language, storyboard will help break down the language barrier. There is no doubt to say that storyboard is a picture which is worth a thousand words in any language.

Furthermore, storyboard is used as a visual of the presentation. Media producer uses it to test the viability of a finished product without the great expense of actual shooting.

Does Storyboard have any barrier?

To some filmmakers, storyboard may not be a good choice. It might be time-consuming and confusing if the director does not have enough experience to transform what is drawn into real film shot.

When the director and storyboard artist create storyboard based on their imagination without having actual information of the location (this does not include outta space or new created studio), it would take so much time to adjust what is in the prepared vision: characters, camera angles, shot types, ect. , into real world. In this case, I would rather throw away my storyboard because of its confusion.

I have had experience with storyboard once. We were doing our practice for school and before that, we had spent nearly three hours for just only 1 page script, which is one minute in movie screen. It was me, the director and another two people, cameraman and a Game Design-student working with each other.  We prepared 4 pages, 18 drawings and every note was carefully considered. We even constructed two options for one scene. We felt secure, we assumed that every thing had been well prepared.

Ironically, none of us knew exactly the place where we shot. We decided the location together but we had not checked its details before filming. When we were on production, the storyboard made me too confused, I was struggling in finding exact corner to set up camera.  Fortunately, we managed to finish on time. It is a memorable lesson, examine the location must be done before doing the storyboard.


Storyboard is an important element of not only film-making, but also comic books scripting and  advertised campaign planning. Experience storyboarding is compelling if you have interest in film-making and drawing at the same time.

A well-constructed storyboard will make a good result, indeed.

Reference:

Vashi Visuals. 2015. The Editing of MAD MAX: Fury Road. <http://vashivisuals.com/the-editing-of-mad-max-fury-road/

Jason H. Harper. 2015. “Mad Max: Fury Road” Makes a Play for the Greatest Car Chase Ever.  <http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mad-max-fury-road-makes-a-play-for-the-greatest-car-chase-ever/

Belo. 2012. Storyboard camera movements. <http://www.belofilms.com/?p=370

Hart, John, 2007. The Art of the Storyboard : A Filmmaker’s Introduction. 2nd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Simon, Mark A., 2006. Storyboards : Motion In Art. 3rd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis Ltd.

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