An Introduction to Storyboarding for Video

Storyboarding for Video

Last updated on August 2, 2020

Storyboards – as they are known today – were the brainchild of the geniuses over at Walt Disney studios in the 1930s.

Today, they have gone beyond the animated movie scene and entered the corporate world. 

No less than 87% of marketers are making use of video content in their marketing strategies and a good percentage of those embrace storyboard as the telling media.

With video content driving no less than 64% of customers to buy a product, causing 80% more conversions than on landing pages that don’t use them, it is here to stay.

With such impressive stats in the loop, it makes sense to delve into the idea of what storyboarding is. 

What is Storyboarding?

The idea of storyboarding is to help advertising agencies and media houses better present the concepts that they would like to use in commercials. 

It consists of a series of illustrations which show the sequential arrangement of events that would occur in the said commercial from start to finish. 


A storyboard also helps incorporate all the other elements that would be involved in the video before final production begins. 

In a way, a storyboard can be likened to be the taking of visual notes (as opposed to textual alternatives) that aid the development of the video for advertisement or other purposes.

What is the purpose of storyboarding?

In video creation, storyboarding has multiple purposes with many benefits.. These upsides can be described as follows

•Idea Materialization: When a new commercial is to be developed, a copywriter is employed to create the copy to be used.

Video copywriter

An art director then works with the copywriter to make their ideas come to life (before final production) with the aid of their storyboarding skills.

This storyboard helps to work out the ideas of the copywriter in detail while allowing the art director to showcase their creative prowess. 

By the time the storyboard is done, the advertising team will be better informed on how to shoot, portray and convey the message in different frames and scenes.

•Elemental Combinations: Another win for storyboarding comes in the way it allows for the pre-planning of elements which would go into different scenes. 

The art director will be able to illustrate which aspects will be for video, where the animations will go, how the still images will align and so much more.

They will also be able to control how the audio will go in line with sound effects and music, where applicable.

•Initial Presentation: Rather than spending all that money on shooting a video that gets rejected or sent back for minor changes, the storyboard helps get that problem out of the way. 

A senior in the agency or a team member could look through the storyboard and help make additional tweaks before final production kicks in.

•Production: Perhaps the biggest advantage of the storyboard comes at the time of production.

Video production

Even if the director knew nothing of the project earlier, they are able to decipher a lot just by looking at the storyboard.

A detailed storyboard will inform the director of the number of actors, sequences, required scenes, props and so on that are needed for final production.

Creating a Functional Storyboard

The beauties a storyboard brings to the table will not be brought to life if you cannot create a great one. In fact, the success of the video commercial is dependent on how great the storyboard is in the first place. 

For those who are interested in creating one for themselves, the steps below are for you.


1) Develop Template

​You can develop your template on a small or large scale. It is advisable that you develop this template on some pieces of paper before moving them to a larger (preferably white) board. 

Speaking of paper, opt for plain sheets over ruled ones.

Once you have those, you should start by drawing some rectangular boxes. Below each of these boxes, make sure you leave spaces for important details such as:

  • • Actor
  • • Action
  • • Dialogue
  • • Effects, etc.

You will also want to make sure each block you have drawn will represent each shot of the video commercial. 

By the way… There are a series of storyboarding scripts that you can get online for free. You can download one here.


2) Introduce the Script

​Remember the lines you left under each of the boxes? This is where they come into play.

Take the script (that must have been developed by the copywriter) and slot the dialogue into the designated boxes.


3) Sketch your characters

​You don’t have to be a Picasso to get this part done. Drawing simple stick figures will do the trick.

In the case of multiple actors in a single frame, you might want to add special designation to your stick figures so as to keep things simple.

If there is going to be any movement in the frame, simply use an arrow to indicate that in the desired direction. 

Another alternative to sketching images is making use of photographs. 

Don’t have time for that? Get some magazines and cut out images from them.

If all else fails, you can check out some online storyboarding tools that will allow you add speech bubbles, texts, choice images and all that fanfare.


4) Take Notes

​After having all the fun, you might want to add some of your thoughts for the next person that will be working on the storyboard. 

You can add in notes at the end of each scene for that.

You can also bring more life to the scenes with notes that describes what is happening, preferred camera angles and if applicable, special effects. 

Whatever you see fit to go into that frame, don’t leave it out in the notes.

On a final note, storyboarding is as interesting as it is impressive. It allows you to express your ideas for a shot in practically no time.

When next you’ve got an inspiration for a commercial in mind, you can draw fast and sloppy to refine later, but you’ll surely have a great video from it.  

Can’t draw storyboards? Don’t worry – there are a lot of experts out there who can take your idea, put a creative spin on it and give you gold!

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